Club hockey closes in on national ranking

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The IUP men’s club hockey team continues to make big changes during the season.

“Next year, a lot of seniors are leaving,” President Nick Sette (senior, finance) said. “Five of our top six forwards are seniors. And our top three defensemen are also seniors.”

Sette said the team underperformed last season because it came to practice and games without planning.

However, this year, the Crimson Hawks practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and they arrive at 6 p.m. to watch film on upcoming or recent games. The team doesn’t get on the ice until 8:30 p.m.

IUP plays 25 games this year, with 14 being league games. It plays in the College Hockey Mid-America League, which includes Mercyhurst University, University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, Robert Morris University, John Carroll University, Slippery Rock University and Duquesne University.

With wins against No. 16 Robert Morris and No. 21 Rochester Institute of Technology, the team is looking to make a strong push toward its league playoffs.

“We will probably get an honorable mention in the Division-I rankings,” Sette said. “It really all depends if we beat Mercyhurst.”

The team also has opportunities to square off with No. 15 Liberty University and No. 11 Lebanon Valley College.

Sette was a freshman last time IUP was ranked, when the Crimson Hawks were No. 15.

Sette said the offense is the issue with the Crimson Hawks this year, but defensively, the team has looked good.

“I think we are underperforming right now,” he said. “We have a very good team, but we have a lot of young guys. They are just taking it all in still. It’s a tough schedule, but at the same time it keeps you disciplined, because we really only have time to go out once a week unlike a normal college student.

Another big change the team has made has been the hiring of new coach Joe Ford. Ford played for the IUP men’s team and holds the records for most points in school history.

Being a club team at IUP, the hockey team receives a limited amount of resources from the university. The players will normally have to pay $2,700 out of pocket to play for the program.

In order to raise money, the team is partnered with Love Your Melon, a nonprofit organization that sells beanies and hats to raise awareness for cancer. When beanies or hats are purchased, the organization will give additional items to kids with cancer.

If the team makes more than 100 sales, LYM sends 100 beanies to the IUP crew. They then dress up in superhero costumes, hand out beanies and hang out with kids. Students can help them by going to LoveYourMelon.com and choosing Indiana University of Pennsylvania upon check out.

IUP plays a league game at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Slippery Rock at S&T Bank Arena.

“It’s a big game,” Sette said. “A lot is on the line. We need to push forward in the league here.”