February 28, 2017

Club hockey ends season

Cleveland State’s club hockey team is not widely known on campus, but has begun efforts to recruit and spread the word of its existence. The team is a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and USA Hockey. The commitment to club hockey is a strong one. With practices usually twice a week, tryouts beginning as early as August -- with a two or three day process based on that -- and heavy conditioning involving skating four times a week, it’s a challenging process.

Head coach Craig Patton is committed to recruiting students interested in the sport of hockey. Patton grew up a hockey fan before getting an opportunity to coach at Olmsted Falls, where he coached for 10 years. For him, it was a unique experience.

When a student he knew asked him if he would be willing to coach his hockey team, Patton said yes.

“I really wanted to get back into the sport of hockey around that moment and I’ve been coaching hockey ever since,” he said.

Patton said members of the club are used to the extreme nature of the sport. Students are required to wake up as early as 5 a.m. and practice as early as 5:30 a.m. The amount of training and conditioning that comes with the sport makes it a challenge for newcomers, but a fun one as well, according to Patton.

To help with recruiting, Patton goes to high schools and talks face to face after students filled out the necessary information. Patton says this way the students can show just how committed they are to the club. The team usually competes against the same school for back-to-back matchups, such as the Penn State matchups from earlier in the year.

“We usually go in with the same strategy in these games, obviously with adjustments depending on whatever happens during the first meet,” Patton said. “We try to work it out with coaches in these kinds of matches.”

With the season winding down on Feb.18, the team finished off with two games against Youngstown State University. Patton said in those matchups, and in any matchup in general, the team wants to feel good ending the season, ultimately carrying into the next one.

“Since we want to compete for National’s, we feel that next year is our year,” Patton said. “It’s tough to recruit at CSU since we’re not well known, but it’s a challenge I enjoy.”

The challenge of recruiting helps keep the culture of competition afloat at the hockey club as well.

Patton says in addition to this, what is also unique about the club’s culture is you’re either a fan of hockey or you hate it.

The coach also said he hopes to build on the Cleveland Monsters’ championship win in 2016 as something of an inspiration to develop what they have.

“The kids have done everything I’ve asked them to, and with the Monsters’ title victory it’s really boosted their confidence level,” Patton said. “Once you prove to the kids they can conquer the challenges at hand, they can accomplish anything and fight for what they’re worth.”


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