UNC Wilmington, a university that many students have characterized as “chill”, gets surprisingly heated when comes to ice hockey. When one thinks of college and ice hockey, they typically imagine it being played competitively in northern states. The same states where devoted hockey fans can be seen sporting the logos of their favorite hockey team on their snow-covered winter jackets. At UNC Wilmington, however, students can spend a Friday afternoon relaxing on the beach, sporting their Dub Hockey t-shirts, then spend the night getting rowdy at the local ice rink.
Since its creation in 2004, UNC Wilmington’s club ice hockey team has become something of a phenomenon. Not only would it surprise an outsider to find a successful ice hockey team within the warm climate of the Carolina shoreline, but they would be in for an even bigger surprise when they showed up to the Wilmington Ice House. They would find it packed with a sold out crowd, a crowd consisting of excited and enthusiastic supporters loudly cheering on the their beloved team. After reaching the ACHA Division III national tournament in 2014, the unlikely ice hockey team has shown they are a force to be taken seriously.So where does all the energy surrounding the hockey team come from? Largely, it is generated by the team itself. It is hard for UNCW students not to notice the team when they lace up their skates to roll up and down the ever crowded Chancellor’s Walk, in uniform, carrying sirens and horns, while shouting about the upcoming game. The players display an enthusiasm that is, simply put, infectious. They broadcast the same high energy level they hope to receive from the fans. They actively create the brand of Dub Hockey. With the team’s outgoing advertising, as well as their social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, not only do they regularly reach max capacity at games, but those fans who manage to get inside are always full of spirit as they cheer, chant, and pound away at the glass separating them from the ice, demonstrating the level of their support.
“It’s incredible how rowdy our fans are. We don’t see anything like it at any of the other rinks we go to,” remarked Kevin Mullaney, the team president during the successful 2014 season, in an interview with WRAL.
The first game of the 2015 season was played last Friday against Elon University. They put on a show as they fought for a 6-4 win against the Phoenixes in front of a max capacity crowd. It would seem that this unlikely group of hockey players will continue to cause UNC Wilmington to lose their chill at the Wilmington Ice house for another season of Dub Hockey.
– Austin Moody, Griffin Weidele, Allen Wooten, Scott Uraro, Luci Keefer