A national championship may be on the horizon for the University of Miami. It is being chased by a team of guys- and girls- clad in helmets, pads and rollerblades.
“It’s no longer just a possibility,” said Alex Lopez, co-captain of UM’s roller hockey club. “It’s time to win.”
The Hurricane roller hockey club competes in Division II of the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association, which has nearly 200 teams and 2,000 players nationwide.
Roller hockey is similar to ice hockey. The team uses pucks, not balls, as many believe. Most of the rules are the same. In roller hockey, however, there is no icing, no offsides and no checking. Roller hockey games are played with four players plus the goalie, as opposed to ice hockey’s five.
Sixteen games are played per season, which lasts through April, with teams traveling and playing four games at a time over the course of a weekend.
The club kicked off their season during the first weekend of October in Georgia with a solid 2-2 finish.
The Canes were defeated by George Mason University and Bethel University, but routed Middle Tennessee State and Virginia Tech 13-0 and 9-1, respectively.
This comes as no surprise. Club co-captain Brad Armas’s favorite part of the sport is “scoring,” he said with a grin.
“There’s nothing like hitting the back of the net,” he said.
UM’s roller hockey club was established in 1995. It has since had a number of rough years, but the days when the club was floundering are long in the past.
Lopez and Armas took control last year, and through their hard work, the roller hockey club was named “Most Improved Club” at the Club Sports Awards Banquet last spring.
“Alex and Brad have been awesome and organizing,” said Rhonda DuBord, club sports adviser.
There is now better funding, better equipment and, most importantly, better talent. The team is currently ranked 2rd in the Southern Conference, which includes Florida Gulf Coast University, UF, FSU, and USF. Last season won 13 of 16 games, a seven-win improvement from the year before.
The club competes at the division II level because it’s student run and student taught. However, this does nothing to lessen the club’s legitimacy.
“At first I thought there would be joking and laughing at the rink, but they take their game seriously,” freshman Joey Cimaglia said. “There’s always someone competing for your spot.”
If a player isn’t looking for such a commitment, he or she is still welcome. The team is co-ed and welcomes players of all experience levels. There are currently 25 members of the club that don’t play competitively, but come to practice to skate for fun. Because of all the equipment necessary to play, there’s a fairly limited amount of space. But if you have a pair of skates, the club will work with you to get you some playing time.
Though the nature of the game is serious, there is an element of fun at every practice.
“It’s a good group of guys,” said Armas. “Everyone’s on the same page.”
According to Lopez, most of the players have a background in ice hockey. He encourages anybody with ice hockey experience to come to a practice.
“We’re all here to play and have fun,” he said.
Darci Miller may be contacted a firstname.lastname@example.org.