The Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team, which reached the 2013 Frozen Four, isn’t the only men’s ice hockey team on campus. Last year, a group of Quinnipiac students established a club hockey team, unaffiliated with Quinnipiac University.
In its second year, the Brave Hockey Club has been around for students who want to play at a higher level of hockey, but not at the level of the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team.
The club competes in scrimmages against teams in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which is the largest club hockey league in the country. The club cannot officially be part of the ACHA because of the university’s disapproval.
Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald said the university has been planning to bring club sports to Quinnipiac, but is still a few years away from adding them in part to a university review and the Title IX settlement.
“The university would like to pursue club sports, but at this time … we will not be having club sports for this year, probably not in [the 2014-15 academic year], but it is something we’d like to pursue,” McDonald said.
This means that Quinnipiac will not fund any part of the team, and the club cannot use any such facilities. The club cannot use the words “Quinnipiac” or “Bobcats,” but it didn’t stop students Sean Simons and Jake Middleton.
“We decided on Braves because it was the original mascot of Quinnipiac, and we wanted to show some school pride while playing,” Simons said. “After playing something you love for years and just suddenly stop, I hated it.”
Middleton, a junior from Ridgewood, N.J., and Simons, a sophomore from Verona, N.J., created the team to keep their passion of hockey alive.
“Hockey has always kept me active, and I needed that here at school, it’s the only way I could stay involved,” Middleton said.
Both Simmons and Middleton had opportunities to play hockey elsewhere, but decided on Quinnipiac instead. Middleton got looked at by Babson College, but decided to come to Quinnipiac.
“Even though I wasn’t going to play college hockey, I felt that Quinnipiac was a great fit for me,” Middleton said.
Both Middleton and Simons wanted to play hockey somewhere while being at Quinnipiac, but they couldn’t find the right fit.
“Intramurals wasn’t serious enough for us, so playing club is a good medium for hockey players,” Simons said.
The club did not have any scheduled games last season and only practiced with each other. This year, the Brave Hockey Club has 15 scheduled game against ACHA teams, including Holy Cross, Fairfield and Yale. The team plays their home games at the Northford Ice Pavilion, which happens to be where the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team played prior to relocating to the TD Bank Sports Center.
The club itself takes the task of emailing coaches and other schools to schedule its own games, as well as managing their own finances. Neither the Athletic Department nor the school will pay the costs for the hockey club, so the players on the Brave Hockey Club pay the costs out their own pockets, and are also covered by USA Hockey for liability costs.
The team cannot be a part of the ACHA without being affiliated with a university. Even though the club is student-run, the ACHA requires each team to have a coach.
Quinnipiac alumni Richard Conte guides the squad. His son, Colin, plays for the club team.
“It’s great to have coach Conte around, he keeps things organized,” Simons said.
For away games, the club team has no buses or other means of team transportation, so the players have to carpool to schools as far as Massachusetts.
Even though it isn’t a Division I team, the club hockey team has the same camaraderie as the Bobcats. The club hockey team, though not officially affiliated with the school, takes a lot of pride in being Quinnipiac students.
“After seeing the men’s hockey team’s success last year and how close they were, it made us want to play even more,” Middleton said. “My favorite part of the team is that we are all working for a common cause. That’s what I missed about hockey, everyone is working together.”
McDonald said if the university decides to add club sports, men’s rugby and ice hockey may be on the list for potential sports. However, the university would have to solve questions regarding facilities, athletic training, transportation, supervision, coaching and meeting Title IX requirements when club sports are brought on.
“Even though we aren’t playing for Quinnipiac, we still have pride in where we come from and in our school,” Simons said. “We are playing a lot better than we expected. We are improving every game.”
The Brave Hockey Club is currently 1-2 on its inaugural season, facing all ACHA teams, and next plays this Saturday against the University of Hartford at Northford Ice Pavilion. Its win came against Connecticut College. The club is enjoying its first season playing competitive games, but hopes to eventually become affiliated with the university.
“It’s definitely something we want to happen, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Simons said. “Our organization is very professional, and we just want recognition.”