This fall, the WSU Men’s Club Hockey team is hitting the ice for another season in the Pac 8.
WSU alumnus Chris Soriano is entering his seventh year coaching the team.
“The quality of play has gotten a lot better compared to past years. When I started coaching, the play was at more of a recreational level. Now we get a lot more support form the university and everything down to our jerseys is run a lot more professionally,” Soriano said.
Because they are a club, players have to pay their own way.
“The players have to pay dues to play, and the uniforms are another $220. Replacing broken hockey sticks isn’t cheap either. By the time you factor in travel to practice in Lewiston and Spokane and equipment, the players are probably spending upwards of $2,000 a season.”
With the costs of playing, it is clear that the members of the team are truly dedicated to the sport.
“All of these guys are dedicated enough to spend thousands of dollars and hours of their time practicing with an old man like me for a coach. My players drive an hour and a half to practice and I fly back and forth from my home in Seattle to coach these guys because I love doing it,” Soriano said.
Senior public relations major Nick Ramirez plays forward for the team.
“I have been playing hockey for 17 years and have been on the WSU team for the past two years,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez wanted to continue playing hockey once he came to college.
“I joined the team because I’ve played hockey my whole life, and I love the game. It’s really cool to be able to represent WSU doing what you love,” he said. “The team has a real community feel. We are all really good friends and will be after we leave school. My favorite part of the game is when we play how we practice and everything goes right because of all the hard work we put into the game.”
Recently, the team did just that, playing their season opener game-winning 8-5 against Gonzaga.
“I was so surprised by how many people came and how loud the fans were. It was great to have everyone there, and winning is nice, too,” Soriano said.
This game was senior political science major Derrick Skaug’s first exposure to ice hockey.
“Before I went to the Gonzaga game, I had never been to a hockey game before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I loved it,” Skaug said. “It was really fast paced and high energy with big hits and big plays. Seeing the hockey puck hit the glass right in front of you was really cool.”
Skaug was proud of the way the team represented the university.
“I was kind of worried when we were down 3-1 that they might give up, but then they came back with intensity and scored goal after goal. They played well and with good sportsmanship. They made WSU look good,” he said.
The next opportunity to see the team in action is the home exhibition game against Walla Walla University on Oct. 15th at the Eagle’s Ice Arena at 10:30 p.m.