By: Kevin Tresolini
September 18, 2013
The men’s ice hockey club has often been one of the University of Delaware’s more popular, if also underappreciated, sports teams.
The Blue Hens regularly pack the Fred Rust Ice Arena for games and, in 2012, won the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship.
But because the team doesn’t have varsity status, players must pay annual dues of $2,000 to cover equipment and other costs. They also rely on a dedicated group of coaches, parents and boosters who pursue sponsorships and other financial backing.
There is a particularly strong sense of anticipation for this season’s opener, which is Friday at the Rust Arena, said team captain Mark Zeszut, a left winger out of the Tatnall School.
“We feel like we’ve got a real strong team this year,” said Zeszut, who is assisted by Christopher Volonnino, Mike Piet and Kevin Redmond. “We picked up a few transfers from NCAA programs and got some strong freshmen to bolster the roster.
“On top of that, there’s just a lot of excitement with us hosting the national championships again.”
The ACHA nationals will be March 7-12 at UD. Delaware also hosted the event in 2011, falling in the quarterfinals, before bouncing back to win a year later in Cleveland. As host, Delaware qualifies automatically for the 20-team 2014 event.
Before that comes a typically difficult schedule consisting of nearly 40 games, including visits to West Virginia, Arizona State, Arizona, Syracuse, Rhode Island and Rutgers.
First come games against Navy on Friday at 7 and Saturday at 7:30. Friday is Military Appreciation Night, with free admission for military members. Some UD players will wear camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned after the game with proceeds benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. There also are free UD hockey shirts to the first 150 students.