In some parts of the country, fall is almost here. That means leaves changing, temperatures dropping and ice-hockey season beginning. That isn't the case for those here in the Sunshine State, but for 23 UCF students, the latter will be true when they lace up their skates and hit the ice at RDV Sportsplex during their first home game of the season on Friday at 10 p.m.
The UCF Knights ice-hockey team competes in Division III of the American Collegiate Hockey Conference and was founded as a club sport in 1997. Since their inauguration, they've made it to the National Championships 10 consecutive times — including two third-place finishes in 2007-08 and 2010-11.
Though many students may not have known the team exists, its past success speaks to the talent of its roster.
"I couldn't tell you how many people on campus say, 'Oh we have a hockey team?' A lot of people have no idea," said team president and alternate captain Jacob Solomon.
Veteran defenseman Tony Bruno said that the team thinks if students knew more about the team, they would enjoy watching the team play.
"With 60,000 students, if they came out to one game, I think a lot of students would be hooked," Bruno said.
The team competes at the RDV Sportsplex in Maitland, about 30 minutes from the main UCF campus, and some players feel that stifles substantial and consistent audience attendance.
"If we were closer, it would be triple [the fans, or] even more than that," said co-captain John Fromme.
Those who do know about the team, though, create a passionate and loud fan base for the team, creating an atmosphere in the rink that the players appreciate.
"We have great fans that come out, really dedicated people who are at our games supporting us," Solomon added.
Make no mistake about it — these guys work hard to be able to compete at a high level. They play three 20-minute periods of near-nonstop action, take hits and dish tough checks, all while skating on ice.
Thursday will mark UCF's first game of the year when the team travels to Tampa, taking on USF. A day later, the Knights compete in their first home game, facing USF again for the second game of a home-and-home series.
Admission for students is free with a student ID or $5 for non-students.
2014-15 UCF Ice Hockey Home Game Schedule
Friday, Sept. 19 – vs. University of South Florida, 10 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 26 – vs. University of Tampa,
Friday, Oct. 10 –
vs. University of Alabama,
Saturday, Oct. 11 – vs. University of Alabama,
Friday, Oct. 17 –
vs. University of Charleston, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 18 – vs. University of Charleston, 10:15 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 24 –
vs. Florida Gulf Coast
University, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 25 – vs. Florida Gulf Coast
University, 10:15 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 14 – vs. University of Miami,
Saturday, Nov. 15 – vs. University of Miami, 10:15 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 20 – vs. Oakland University, 10 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 15 – vs. University of Tampa,
Friday, Jan. 23 –
vs. Florida Atlantic University, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 24 – vs. Florida Atlantic University, 4 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 7 – vs. University of South Florida, 4 p.m.