By Ryan Queler
For Unwind Magazine
As basketball season nears, one sport is still struggling to make a name for itself on the campus, in a lower division but with just as much moxie to succeed as the other sports: the ice hockey team.
The University of Maryland’s hockey program functions as a Division II club sport and is composed of a team of “students who want to play competitive ice hockey without the restrictions and obligations of a varsity sport,” according to junior mechanical engineering major, forward and club president Avery Clair.
The team does not receive the same luxuries and money from the school for things like off-ice training, nutrition and film review as some of Maryland’s opponents do, according to Assistant Coach Joseph Carter.
“In a varsity program, you would probably find a more rigid daily schedule, but since we are just a club program with minimal support from the school, we don’t have a fixed routine. Most days the kids are just regular full time university students,” Carter said.
Lucas Davis, a senior accounting and finance major, forward and former president of the organization, is one of the most experienced leaders on the team, and varies his workouts by whether or not it’s hockey season.
“For me personally, I lift weights a lot in the offseason and then during the season I usually go for a run on Monday and Wednesday,” Davis said.
A captain on the ice, but a regular student off of it, Davis added that the season can be an extremely busy time for players, who must balance practices and games with academics and their social lives. He emphasized the importance of time management for all players on the team.
“I spend a lot of time on Sunday doing school work and getting ahead so the week isn’t as busy,” Davis said.
For Clair, the recovery of playing such a physical sport throughout a grueling 23-game schedule poses the biggest challenge to players.
“These games really take a toll on your body and as the season goes on, it’s very difficult to stay healthy weekend to weekend,” said Clair.
Although suiting up on game-days can be stressful and the players are not always skating at full health, the team is able to stay loose in the locker room with unique individual and team oriented traditions and rituals. Clair said that prior to each game, he dresses in the same shirt, tie, and blazer and eats his favorite pregame meal; chicken and pasta.
“Locker room traditions vary from player to player. However, as a team, game rituals consist of a pre game talk from our coaches followed by us getting pumped up by listening to ‘Wild Out’ by Waka Flocka,” Clair said.
Davis mentioned that one superstition he has involves how he tapes his stick before warm-ups. If he scored a goal in the previous game, Davis leaves the tape on his stick and does not apply any new tape. However, if he did not score a goal in the last game, he adds new tape on his stick with hopes of scoring the next big goal for the Terps.
About 45 minutes prior to taking the ice for warm-ups, the team participates in the same exercise routines to get ready for the game. Together, they start with a light jog and then proceed to the following exercises: high knees, butt kicks, side shuffles, soldier walk, lunges and sprints. After performing the exercises, the team gathers for a pump up speech by the captains, followed by warm-ups and a strategy talk led by coaches before puck drop.
Win or lose, Carter said the players “salute the fans with their sticks at center ice after every home game,” a ritual that he deemed “a nice touch.”
Off to an impressive 8-4 start this year, the Terps are currently ranked 10th in their region and are focused on continuing their success, while also having fun while doing it.
“We have a lot of team chemistry this year, and that really helps when we are out on the ice together. We work very hard in practice, but we also try to keep things loose and joke around a lot,” Clair said.