While the NHL season has just begun, the Miami Hurricanes club hockey team has been skating hard for weeks. They’re off to a 2-1 start.
The Canes are making their first home appearance of the year, with games against Life University on Friday and Saturday night. Both games start at 8:30 p.m. at Kendall Ice Arena, in the Hammocks neighborhood of West Kendall.
Miami’s Division III team, in its first year under new coach Paul Healey, kicked off the season Sept.13 with a tough 2-1 loss to the University of Tampa. But the Canes bounced back the next day for a 6-5 win. A week ago, they kept the momentum going by knocking off the South Florida Ice Bulls 3-0 in Tampa.
Team members are eager to improve on last year’s 22-8 record, motivated in part by their motto: “New Year. New Look. Same Goal.”
The club’s season stretches over parts of the fall and spring semesters. Miami faces off against schools from around the country in the non-varsity American Collegiate Hockey Association. Their upcoming opponents include Texas Tech, Iowa and Florida Gulf Coast.
“To have kids from all over the country to comprise a competitive team like this in Miami is incredible,” said senior forward Brandon Seagriff, the club president.
Seagriff said strong fan support help propel the Canes.
“Students should come out to games because they’re a lot of fun and free,” he said.
“They are very competitive within their league and travel a lot for games,” said Connie Nickel, assistant director of recreation programs at the Wellness Center.
The Canes were initially a roller hockey team – and one of national championship caliber just two years ago.
Rhonda DuBord, associate director of recreation programs, oversaw the transition from roller skates to ice skates. Many Hurricanes grew up playing ice hockey, so the switch was both welcome and inevitable.
“After years of success and a 2011 national championship [in roller hockey], the team decided it was time to take the natural progression and increase their opportunity to compete,” DuBord said.
The Canes altered their constitution to ice hockey and moved west to the Kendall Ice Arena, about 12 miles from campus. The 2011-2012 season, the first on the ice, was a winning campaign. Miami went 17-0. Last year the team also had a strong season, but the ultimate prize – another national championship – eluded them.
The hockey club has even become an unexpected recruiting tool for the university. DuBord said some high school athletes who don’t plan to play at the varsity collegiate level see an opportunity to still compete at a high level while attending a prestigious university like UM.
After Saturday’s game, the Canes are on the road. Miami’s next home series is Oct. 25-26 against Florida Gulf Coast. For more information about the team and to view their upcoming schedule, visit umiamihockey.com or like University of Miami Ice Hockey on Facebook.
Kendall Ice Arena is located at 10355 Hammocks Blvd, 33196.