Intramural hockey thriving during second year in program

If anyone thinks that intramural hockey is not to be taken seriously, think again. Sophomore defender Kelli Hildreth and the rest of her teammates from The High Stickers began preparing long before the Intramural Department held its second annual co-ed hockey tournament beginning the week of Monday, Feb. 26.

“We had a weight workout and scouted the other teams,” Hildreth said. “We also had tryouts. We really wanted the best for our team.”

Games were played six-on-six, and each team was required to have three male and three female members on the court at all times. As for the action during the games, it was heated by friendly rivalries.

“The games were intense,” sophomore forward Justin Godwin of The High Stickers said. “We knew a lot of the people we played and we wanted to beat them.”

Nicole Darling, assistant director of student activities and intramural director, was pleased with the competitive play from everyone despite the somewhat hazardous nature of the game.

“It’s a little dangerous,” Darling said. “People get hit in the shins a lot and obviously high sticking is an issue.”

Darling offered some extra equipment for this year’s seven-team, double-elimination tournament.

Goalies had the option to use face masks, mits and arm guards to protect themselves. Balls were also used this year instead of pucks due to student feedback that Darling received. Another change from last year to this year was the location. This year’s tournament was played in Hopper because of conflicts occurring in Cowles.

“It was a different experience in Hopper,” senior Lucas Iburg, a member of the Intramural Council, said. “I think Hopper was better because it’s closed off more and not as wide open like downstairs.”

Iburg served as an official and was responsible for keeping time and score as well as supervising play to make sure everything was under control. In only its second year in the intramural program, hockey is still a work in progress.

“It’s still in an experimental stage,” Darling said. “It’s a good addition. We’re always adding new things which help the program.”

Godwin praised the department’s decision to add the new event because of what the sport of hockey offers to students who participate.

“It’s good exercise first of all,” Godwin said. “It’s just a good co-ed environment where everyone can hang out and have fun and still be competitive.”

Godwin and Hildreth both had lofty expectations for their crew, which suffered some minor blows during the tournament due to issues involving injuries and focus. When asked in the middle of their tournament run about her team’s performance thus far, Hildreth was a little heartbroken by their start but still optimistic.

“We were looking for a championship,” Hildreth said. “Our first game was a setback, but we are smelling a comeback.”

As for Godwin, he was happy with his team’s performance, but also frustrated after all of the hard work his team put in while preparing for the tournament.

“The girls surprised me a little bit with their physical play,” Godwin said. “But with the game plan we had on top of our practice sessions, we should be playing a lot better.”

Hildreth did her best to stay positive for the future.

“We have a lot of potential,” Hildreth said. “Once all of our teammates are healthy we will start to come together.”

Her prediction came true as The High Stickers finished strong in their remaining games, topped by a dominating 4-2 win in their Feb. 27 match-up.