The Texas State club hockey program has two full years under its belt and although the season is finished, opportunities to better the program are ongoing.
The Bobcats finished up the spring segment of their season and won four of the last five games. This cemented an improvement over last season, which ended in 12 straight losses.
“We finished the season just under .500,” said team captain Casey Savage. “Looking back, there were a lot of close games which we could have easily won. We were all satisfied with the strides we made as a team this year, but (we) are setting the bar even higher next season.”
The team is putting in most of its effort off the ice, advertising for new players and more support from the university’s club program. Fundraising is essential to the program taking the next step.
Team President T.J. Wolling said the club is focusing on organizational aspects for the spring.
“We are improving the officer structure, fundraising and community service,” Wolling said. “Everyone is expected to stay in shape, and many of the players on the team work out together.”
The Bobcats successfully recruited three current students toward the end of the fall semester. Savage is hoping the team can lure more future players since the season ended with 15 players on its roster.
The team will be losing three players to graduation including Savage and goaltender Patrick Parker. Recruiting more players will prove to be the key to sustaining the improvement the program has had. Some are aware of transfers, but would like to start getting players to come to Texas State specifically for its hockey club team.
On the ice, the Bobcats lost to in-state powers University of Texas-Austin and University of North Texas a total of six times, including two contests by more than 10 goals each. This past season, the Bobcats beat both the Longhorns and the Mean Green for the first time.
“I remember last season thinking we could beat (Texas), so it’s great to have accomplished it,” Wolling said. “You really feel like you are representing your university when you beat a school like (Texas).”
Texas’ most prestigious club hockey team, Texas A&M University, defeated the Bobcats in 2012 three times by a total score of 42-4. A&M is ranked tenth in the west regional by the American Collegiate Hockey Association and finished this season 32-8. Texas State was more competitive this time around, still losing to the Aggies in all of its five matchups, but lost in a tight 6-3 game in January and never lost by more than six goals.
The Bobcats competed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament for nationally invited club hockey programs in Washington D.C. Texas State went 0-3, but gained valuable experience it will be able to use to its advantage when it plays in the same tournament next season in Michigan.
According to Head Coach Bob Smith, the team has fallen into a more organized league now called the College Hockey Southwest League, featuring five Texas universities: A&M, Texas State, Texas, UNT and the University of Texas-San Antonio. Smith knows his team is excited to compete in a new league with familiar foes.
“The league will offer a pretty busy 20 game season and a championship tournament in early February,” Smith said. “Next season is shaping to be a real breakout year for the team. We expect to be one of the most dominant teams in the region and bring favorable attention to the university.”
The team’s next try-out is March 31 at 10:45 a.m. in the North Cross Rink in Austin. Savage feels the team is very close to reaching its maximum potential.
“There are many reasons somebody should come play hockey at Texas State,” Savage said. “The only Texas team that has made the (ACHA) tournament in the past is (A&M). We played several close games to them this year, and (we) feel like we are on the verge of competing at regionals.”