The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ice hockey team honors founder at first game

The University of Richmond club ice hockey team retired the No. 11 jersey of one of the club's founders, Chris Bernard, at its Sept. 24 game against Virginia Commonwealth University.

A banner signifying Bernard's No. 11 jersey was raised to the rafters and, as a symbol of respect, the jersey number will no longer be worn by any other player on the team.

Head coach and fellow team founder Kevin Silver said Bernard was the first- ever president of the club and was credited with furthering the team's vision by laying the groundwork for the now expanded ice hockey program. Bernard, along with 20 other alumni members of the hockey team, attended the game.

"The ceremony was really nice," Silver said in an e-mail. "I managed to keep it a surprise right up until it happened, and he was really blown away."

This year, the club ice hockey team is looking to win its fifth Blue Ridge Hockey Conference championship and secure a bid to American Collegiate Hockey Association's regional tournament.

"We missed a regional tournament bid by one position in the rankings last year, and, with the team we field this year, I think that an ACHA regional tournament bid is certainly a realistic goal," Silver wrote.

The team, founded in 2001, is a member of the American Hockey Association's Division III teams -- a division for schools with populations below 10,000 and located in areas where ice hockey is not prevalent -- and competes in the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference's Colonial Division, along with schools like Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The team's current roster has 25 players, two of which are abroad, and will return 20 players along with an addition of five freshmen. The team lost only four players to graduation from last season.

The ice hockey season spans from September through February, operating on a 25-game schedule, excluding tournaments and extended conference play, and has one of the longest seasons of all club sports.

Senior and team co-president Jeffrey Fritsch said one of the reasons the team was so close was that the long season was such a large time commitment.

In fact, alumni are just as committed to the team as the current players. On Sept. 25 the current ice hockey team took on alumni and former members of the team in the team's annual alumni game.

"We have really dedicated alumni who come back from Washington, D.C., New York, and many other places to play at Richmond Ice Zone against us," said senior and risk management officer Christopher Woodford. "It's a chance for younger members to meet people who started the program."

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The team typically practices two times per week from 10 p.m. to midnight at the Richmond Ice Zone, about fifteen minutes from campus, and plays its home games in the same arena.

In order to increase awareness of the team, the men are offering various raffles with prizes including brunch for four at the Jefferson Hotel. Raffle tickets cost $1 and winners will be announced at the team's Oct. 2 home game against the College of William & Mary. The team's games are free and the team members said they were looking forward to seeing increased participation from students.

For interested players, both Woodford and Fritsch said there was still time to join the team this season.

"It's not too late to join the hockey team," Woodford said. "We can have a roster of more than 20 players, but we can only play 20."

Any interested member must be willing to commit both time and money.

"Dues are $500 per semester plus travel and equipment, so it can be expensive at times," Woodford said.

The team is currently all male and has had women sign up for the team in the past during club sport rush, but none have shown up to tryouts.

The ice hockey team will take on James Madison University at the Richmond Ice Zone at 11:10 p.m. on Oct.1.

For more information, visit the team's website at urhockey.com.

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