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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Icecats deserve more student support

    Janne Peronacolumnist
    Janne Perona
    columnist

    At a home game in January, about half the stadium’s seats were filled – 1,100 regular tickets were sold, only about 480 of them at a student price.

    After three goals in the first period, it was clear that Saturday’s club ice hockey game between rivals ASU and UA was going to be intense. Cross-checking, crushing blows and screaming fans on both sides culminated in a sweet 5-2 victory for the Icecats, which meant a weekend sweep for the squad and the 550th win in the bank for head coach Leo Golembiewski.

    The members of the Icecats are talented players with a serious love of the game, despite not getting much love from the UA in return. They say they play for the pure joy of hockey, and that joy wins games, as evidenced by the team’s No. 11 American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I ranking – a ranking that means they have a serious shot at the national title.

    In fact, several club teams, such as men’s and women’s water polo and men’s volleyball, do very well in their divisions yet receive little student support. Contrast that to the UA basketball and football teams, neither of which are ranked but both of which have a cult-like following.

    The Icecats are a club team, a designation that means that they are not affiliated with the UA athletic department, their players are not eligible for athletic scholarships and they get no university funding to travel to away games. They are not an official university team because of Title IX, which requires schools to have equal numbers of men’s and women’s sports.

    By season’s end, the Icecats will have played 18 of their 32 regular-season games at the Tucson Convention Center. At a home game in January, about half the stadium’s seats were filled – 1,100 regular tickets were sold, only 480 of them at a student price. For a hockey team that has a very good chance of playing in the national championship, that is shameful.

    At the home game against Colorado State University on Jan. 21, there were seemingly more fans from CSU than Arizona. That is a sad statistic, but not exactly unexpected for several reasons.

    First, games are played off-campus. As the UA doesn’t have an ice arena, the Icecats must play at the TCC. Playing at an outside venue is not uncommon for club hockey teams, but it is a factor that can keep students from attending games.

    Second, since the games are at the TCC, the Icecats must rent ice space. Ergo, students must pay a steep $6.75 or $8.75 for tickets, depending on where they choose to sit. For other teams, the cost is significantly less – $4 for home games at ASU. Add to that the fact that the Icecats are the only UA club team to charge for their events, and you have a recipe for apathy.

    The third reason is probably the most predominant: This is Arizona. We are not part of a culture that grows up on ice hockey; it is a transplanted thing, like the palm trees by Old Main. But Arizona isn’t exactly conducive to any sport – it is not as though basketball or football is an “”Arizona sport.””

    Seeing as the Icecats are having a great season and have had a phenomenal team for the past 20 years, they deserve a cheering support base to give them the boost they need when playing hard-core, student-supported teams.

    “”The students that do come to the games are great; they are loud, supportive and really help the players,”” said senior defenseman and team captain D.J. Pelletier. “”On the other hand, it would definitely be nice to have more student support.””

    Given that for less than the price of a movie you could watch an action-packed hockey game, it might be worth it to support one of the UA’s best teams. With only four home games left on the schedule – two each for the last two weekends in February – now would be a great time to check out the Icecats.

    As Pelletier said, “”Everyone should definitely come and watch at least one game; I guarantee you will love it and be back for many more!””

    Janne Perona is a criminal justice administration sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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