October 11, 2011 5:45 AM
The Tulane ice hockey team, founded in 2003, has had a few setbacks to overcome in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including most importantly, the local New Orleans ice rink being damaged beyond repair. The determined club sport team remains steadfast, practicing in Baton Rouge, La.
Team president Eric Tugal says the team has been improving each year, with a record of 16-5 last season. “This year we have more stability and consistency. We have more talent, and the new kids provide more depth to complement last year’s returning core,” Tugal says.
The team, which plays big name schools such as the University of Alabama and Mississippi State University, has a tougher schedule this year than last year as well.
“Most of us felt that we were kind of overlooked last year for the ACHA regional tournament,” said Tugal, “but that may have been because of the rigor of our schedule. This year we play more competitive teams, and have to take eight-hour plus driving trips to play three of those hard teams: Florida Atlantic, UNC–Wilmington and Arkansas.”
A lingering issue in the success and growth of the hockey team is the absence of an ice rink in New Orleans. “It used to be about as easy to get people to come to hockey games as it was to get them to come to football games. Both arenas were about the same distance off campus. But now we are forced to practice and play at an ice rink in Baton Rouge, which is an hour away. It’s hard on the team.” With no fan bus, this makes it difficult for students to show their support.
Regardless of the fan and rink situation, however, Tugal is still confident. “The t’s are crossed, the i’s dotted, and we’re optimistic about this season as a team.”
Benton Oliver is a first-year student majoring in communication.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org