Miami Ice: Hockey is Thriving In Coral Gables

UM Men's Hockey

The University of Miami's ice hockey team is slowly gaining momentum, and they are piling up the wins as they go.

The average high temperature in Coral Gables bottoms out at around 76 degrees, and yet ice hockey is gaining a foothold. When most people realize that Miami has a hockey team, they don't immediately think that it's played on skates. They assume maybe field hockey, or roller hockey, something played on a surface that befits the image of what Miami should be. Yet, here they are, flying around Kendall Ice Arena on blades, playing a sport that many love, a few know about, and some don't pay any attention to.

The Miami hockey team started out as a roller hockey squad, so the people that assume that's what they play are partially right. In 2011, the roller team won a national championship, and when ice hockey became an option, they immediately made the switch. They joined the ACHA, and currently play in division 3 against the likes of Alabama, Arizona State, Nebraska, and Maryland, among plenty of others.

The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) began as a men's collegiate hockey organization and was established on April 20, 1991. Fifteen charter members met during the Chicago Showcase in Skokie, IL at the North Shore Hilton. These member teams had been playing college hockey for many years but wished to legitimize its play by standardizing some of its procedures.

The members that created the organization were: Tom Keegan (ACHA), Al Murdoch (Iowa State), Joe Battista (Penn State), Jim Gilmore (Ohio), Ernie Ferrari (Stanford), Howard Jenks (California-Berkeley), Jeff Aikens (North Dakota State), Don Spencer (West Virginia), Jim Barry (Navy), Scott Fuller (Navy), Leo Golembiewski (Arizona), Ron Starr (Depaul), Cary Adams (PCHA), Jim Warden (PCHA), and Jack White (UCLA).

The inaugural year of the ACHA was the 1991-1992 season. The goal of the organization was to create an impartial governing body to monitor national tournaments, player eligibility, and general oversight.

From those humble beginnings, the ACHA now currently boasts five divisions (Men's Division 1, 2, and 3; Women's Division 1 and 2) with over 446 teams from across the nation representing 49 different states (all but Hawaii!).

The team's first season was in 2011-2012, and they actually went undefeated with a 17-0-0 record. In their current season, they are 14-4-1, and will resume action on January 11th against the University of Florida. The roster is made up of guys from all over the place, not just from the Florida area.

# Last Name First Name POS
Year Shot
Height
Hometown
11
Cimaglia Joey G
Junior
L
5'8"
Boca Raton
63
Dallaire Mark D
Sophomore
L
5'10"
Ft Pierce
9
Davis Eli F
Sophomore
L
5'10"
Macomb
33
DeSilva Paul G
Junior
R
6'0"
Ridgewood
15
Dehnert Gavin D
Sophomore
R
5'10"
White Bear Lake
19
Doherty Danny D
Junior
L
5'10"
Framingham
27
Early Kevin F
Sophomore
R
5'10"
Randolph
12
Epstein Casey D
Junior
R
6'0"
Hewlett
10
Hara Justin F
Sophomore
L
5'9"
West Hartfod
30
Hirst Trevor G
Junior
R
6'1"
Redding
88
Johnson Scotty D
Graduate
L
6'0"
Pembroke Pines
7
Katz Adam F
Junior
R
5'8"
Vero Beach
91
LaBrake Anthony F
Junior
R
5'5"
Yardley
2
Lauerman Gar F
Junior
R
6'0"
Oak Park
22
MacDonald Kevin D
Sophomore
L
5'9"
Mission Viejo
21
Manna Thomas D
Junior
L
5'7"
Framingham
5
McLean Steve D
Senior
R
6'0"
Burlington
68
Nardone Paul F
Sophomore
L
5'11"
Shelby Township
14
Roberts Michael F
Junior
L
6'0"
Boulder
17
Rodgers Patrick F
Sophomore
L
6'0"
Tampa Bay
77
Schnetzer Brendan F
Freshman
R
5'9"
Selden
92
Seagriff Brandon F
Junior
R
6'5"
Ridgefield
26
Shuman Jake F
Senior
L
5'10"
New City
23
Smith Andrew F
Sophomore
L
6'2"
Wilmington

To help shed some more light on what the team is about, we caught up with head coach Mike Toyota to ask him a few questions about the team:

State Of The U - We know the team came about by swapping roller blades for ice skates, but after winning a roller hockey national title, why switch to ice?

Mike Toyota - Most of the roller players were originally ice hockey players who played roller because that was the only option available on campus at the time.

SOTU - Your first season went extremely well, finishing unbeaten and untied. You second season is building on that success. How have you been able to put together so many wins with such a new team?

Two main ingredients, good enough number of participants (35 in the club) and most importantly, high enough level of competitive hockey experience with a majority of the players on the team.

SOTU - Whenever I talk about the fact that Miami has an ice hockey team, the looks I get are of bewilderment. How has the team and the sport been received in Miami?

Slowly, but we have been building on it with each game, we've shown a continuous growth and expect that trend to continue.

SOTU - How exactly does building the team work? Do you recruit players like any other college sport, or since its club hockey, do guys that want to play just try out?

Absolutely we recruit, we have no scholarships to offer, but what we do have to offer is an opportunity to get a great education from an excellent institution, in sunny South Beach, and to play hockey on a competitive collegiate level team. I believe a player with an opportunity to play NCAA D3 Hockey at a small Liberal Arts school would be absolutely crazy to not consider Miami as a serious viable option.

SOTU - For those who may not have looked into it, or may not understand how it works, how do the ACHA seasons and playoffs work?

We are an independent team, not affiliated to any specific conference, so that means we can play who and when we want. This year we will have played 28 games prior to the playoffs. Top 2 ranked teams in our 50 team Region go straight to Nationals March 12-16 in Springfield Mo. Teams ranked 3-10 compete at Regionals Feb 14-16 in Columbia, S.C. the top 2 teams from that event go to nationals representing the Southern Conference, we are currently 14-4-1 and ranked 5th in our Region.

SOTU - You play in the South region of Division 3. Who would you say is your toughest competition?

Kennesaw State (Ga.), Florida Gulf Coast & Central Florida........... But also any team currently in the top ten rankings.

SOTU - You guys play in Kendall Ice Arena, which isn't that far from Miami's campus. Has there been a lot of student body support for the team?

Yes, much more this year than last, we have about 30-70% student to public fan base.

SOTU - I noticed that you guys have started selling jerseys to help fund the team. Does this mean that you guys are 100% self-funded, or do you receive any help from the university?

MT - The school treats the hockey club fantastic, both monetarily and administratively......... I talk with a lot of coaches around the country and I am very happy with the support that we are getting. The fund raising is for things that the school does not pay for, and because, understandably, Regionals and Nationals were not something that we anticipated needing to have included in our budget this season. We are going to have to figure out how to get those funds in a very short time span, so we are trying to get a jump on it now.

SOTU - Lastly, if you were to put out a PSA to students and fans alike to let them know what they could expect if they come watch you guys play, what would you say?

MT - We'll provide you the complete fan experience........ fast, physical & entertaining hockey along with player interactions, the opening ceremonies with dignitaries, music and occasional singing but most of all, it is free admission and parking.

So there you have it. It's hockey, it's Miami, and it's FREE. There is no reason not to go! If you're looking for more information about the team, you can find it at the links below:

You can find the team's website at UMIceHockey.com

You can find them on Twitter at @UM_MensHockey

You can Like them on Facebook at UM Men's Hockey

If you would like to help support the team by purchasing one of these (see below) replica jerseys, shoot an email over to UMiamihockey@gmail.com and let them know by putting "Canes Jersey" in the subject line. They are $95, and may take a little while to get to you, but they are fantastically sweet, and 100% of the profits go towards helping to fund the team.

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via sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net





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