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
I completely agree with the point of this article. It baffles me to see how many people showed up for a hockey game at the coast. I have been invited to several hockey events on Facebook, twitter, and other forms of social media. These events get big and show so much school spirit. In my opinion, hockey replaces football here and creates a great atmosphere for students to show their school spirit and congregate as a student body. I am thrilled for the start of hockey season and can’t wait to cheer on our team! Go seahawks!!!
Although I have only been at UNC Wilmington since the start of this semester, I already know that club hockey here is big. From the first time I visited campus it was brought to attention by the tour guide that the club ice hockey team games are a big attraction. I transferred from the University of New Hampshire after spending two years there, and like was mentioned, this northern university is known for its big Division I Men’s Ice Hockey team. Local shops in the college town of Durham sponsor the team and set up booths at these games to promote their business and give a further incentive to attend, and the games are marketed just as much to the local families as they are to the students. Although UNH has these resources as well as a very connected local town, the energy and hype for the ice hockey team that I have seen so far at UNCW seems to match or maybe even exceed some of the spirit at UNH Hockey games. This may go to support the point that selectivity is a factor in the branding of this ‘product’, just like it is with universities. Like mentioned in this post, and so I’ve heard, these games sell out rather fast, whereas at UNH, usually only big games against the rival teams sell out. When only a certain amount of people can go to a game due to the size of the rink, it becomes a race where if you get in, it adds to the excitement of being there. It almost makes it a game in itself, and gives it hype even before the game. In addition, the way the team brands itself here at UNCW seems to be more personal than at UNH. At UNH it is left up to the university athletics department and pre-established reputation to get everybody to want to come see the game, instead of the actual players of the team itself making an effort to connect to the student body directly.
As a transfer student I was really excited to find out that UNCW has an ice hockey team. I absolutely love hockey and I’m so excited for the opportunity to hang out at the rink and catch a few games. I am impressed with how much support the club hockey team gets from other students here. I think it’s pretty cool to see the team care so much about having fans at the games and I’ve never seen a school team go out and promote itself before. It’s a really neat thing to see. I’ve heard about the team’s last season success and I’m looking forward to seeing how well they do this year!
After clicking the Twitter link you referenced, I am amped up to go and see them play. “We may not have football, but we have hockey,” one follower tweeted. I see more UNCW spirit on the hockey team’s Twitter account than on a Teal Tuesday walk down Chancellors.
I’ve never been to a game yet but I definitely want to go! I have a lot of friends that go and they always say it’s a blast. I love how the team goes down Chancellor’s shouting about their games. It shows true Seahawk spirit. That’s about the only thing I love when walking down Chancellor’s at 12.
I had no idea there was such a big Hockey love here in Wilmington. I am not from the east coast or the north so hockey is about a foreign to me as cricket or rugby. However, I think the reason why it’s so popular here is because it isn’t something you’d expect. Does that make sense? You mentioned at the beginning how UNC Wilmington is known for being “chill” but regularly gets rowdy and sells out hockey game seats. I also think the student that is attracted to UNCW is attracted to being different. We like the idea of doing something unexpected and against the norm of the environment that we are in. Now I am sure there are many more reasons for why this has such a large following but I have a feeling this a big reason. Hey, I’ve never liked Hockey before but maybe I will catch one of the games and catch this enthusiasm you described.
I must admit, I am one of those rowdy hockey fans. A friend of mine is the starting goalie, and I know many of the guys on the team. Quite frankly, ice hockey is the only sport I watch. The game of hockey itself is so fast pace, with lots of contact and competitive aggression which makes it so much fun to watch. It’s true, you simply cannot miss them roller blading, biking, and skating down Chancellors yelling “HOCKEY GAME” and insisting that you take a handout, which has the game schedule on it. They’re all great guys, and I’m looking forward to supporting them this season. Go Hawks!
UNCW club hockey has been some of my favorite sporting events to go to since starting to attending here last year. The atmosphere is great and it really somewhat fills in for not having a football team on campus. Hockey needs to be even more popular around campus and I would love to see it one day be recognized as a varsity sport at UNCW.
It seems that UNCW has so many clubs, events and activities that it offers to its students to take part in and enjoy. Sometimes I wonder if its possible to hear about every opportunity. There’s no need to worry about hearing about the Hockey Team, however, as I am constantly hearing buzz surrounding the team and how incredible thier marketing/advertising/promotion of their squad brand is. Without a doubt I plan to catch a game and watch these incredible guys up close and “chill” out for a bit from studying.
Great blog! It’s pretty crazy how popular a cold sport can be in a warmer climate. Last Friday my roommate when to the game and she said it was crazy and so much fun. I can’t wait to go to one myself.
This is my second year as a student at UNCW after transferring from ECU, and one thing that I miss more than anything else is the school spirit that went along with going to a 25,000+ student University. Here at UNCW the Dub Hockey team is the biggest reminder of how much fun that can be, I love seeing these guys skating and biking up and down Chancellor’s Walk with their megaphones and in their jerseys. It reminds me of the good times at ECU where on saturdays you could follow the marching band up College Hill and into the stadium. I have personally not been to a hockey game here at UNCW but after reading this article and seeing the guys with their raucous revelry it makes me want to attend each game.
As a member of the team i would like to say it is very tough (especially for clubs) to gain support to come to our games/events. With our rink off campus, it is a very big task to advertise to our school and fans to come to our games. Our whole team is involved from seniors to freshman and it really is a team effort to make our games as packed and as good as at atmosphere as we can make it, for us AND for the fans themselves too.
I think what the hockey team is doing is awesome! They exude so much energy when getting people to come out to their games like roller skating down Chancellors and handing out flyers. I have been to more hockey games than I have any other sport at UNCW simply because I hear about it more and see the team so present on campus. Go Hawks!!
I loved your opening “chill” pun! Hockey games are so much fun to be a part of, and it doesn’t hurt that our team is very good! Its easy to get excited about something when everyone else around you is!
never really been a big fan of hockey but I would like to go to a uncw game just because of the massive amount of school spirit surrounding the game. Even though it’s placed a bit off I think the way it’s being marketed makes it seem like it’s worth the effort to go there.