Could hockey become official sport at FGCU?

Posted on December 1, 2011


By  Ryan Toohey

The Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles hockey club is becoming one of the most popular sports on campus, and it is also gaining national recognition.

Thomas Patterson, the vice president and assistant captain of the Eagles hockey club, said less than a third of the team’s 60 members are from Florida.

“If FGCU was to ever have a NCAA team, it might be the most popular team to play for in the U.S.,” said the 22-year-old Patterson.

The Eagles currently have a Division 2 and a Division 3 hockey club.  The FGCU’s administration has yet to go through the steps to approve an NCAA team.

Patterson, who is from Ontario, Canada, is one student who was drawn to FGCU due to its desirable location.

“If you put a team in an attractive area, it’s bound to do well,” said Patterson.

Patterson says top prospects from the north will most likely not attend FGCU because it plays in American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and not the NCAA, the highest level of collegiate competition.

“There is still that big hurdle of turning a sports club team into a NCCA team,” said Patterson. “I would personally like to see this team move into D1 competition, but that starts with winning a championship, which hasn’t been done yet.”

The Eagles have enjoyed recent success, which has provided them with national exposure, Patterson says.

Last season the team was ranked No. 1 in the nation among all ACHA D2 clubs at the end of the regular season.  The Eagles were the favorites to win the championship, Patterson said.

Lasts year’s loss came against Michigan State in the ACHA D2 National Championship Tournament last year.

The Eagles are undefeated this year.  They have 19 wins and one tie.

FGCU hockey club president and captain of the team, Mike Lendino is currently the ACHA D2 leader in goals scored, and he is second in points scored.

With this recent success, has the university’s administration investigated the possibility of adding hockey to the FGCU’s sports menu?

“It is not on the radar screen for us to start a varsity hockey team in the foreseeable future,” said Ken Kavanagh, FGCU’s athletic director.

If hockey were to be added to the FGCU sports menu, there are several issues the administration would need to hurdle.

FGCU would need to add another women’s sport in order to stay gender equitable, Kavanagh said.

Hockey would also bring a heavy expense.

Currently the Eagles hockey team only travels three times a year, Patterson said.

The Eagles would have to travel for at least half of their games if they were a NCAA hockey team, Kavanagh said.  He says this is a problem due to the cost of buying and traveling with hockey equipment.

Kavanagh said he has an appreciation for the hockey club, but he is not directly involved with them.

The hockey club, along with all other clubs, is run under campus recreation, he said.

This season the Eagles will host the ACHA D2 National Championships at Germain Arena in March.

Patterson says he doesn’t care if the team is an NCAA team or a sports club as long as there is competitive hockey and FGCU student support.

Posted in: Ryan Toohey