The Icemen Cometh: NEIU’s Mens Hockey Team!

Roberto Rivera, Staff Writer



Photo provided by NEIU Hockey Facebook

Northeastern Illinois University’s Golden Eagle center Ryan Kutak faces off against a rival center.
Bringing in the spring semester with Chicago’s usual cold January weather seems befitting to have a winter sport to accommodate the season. Therefore, hockey lovers within the NEIU student body have come together to represent NEIU with a hockey club born from the pure love of the sport. Officially, NEIU does not have a certified competing hockey team in any collegiate athletic organization, but with the organizing of the NEIU Men’s Hockey Club, the team has taken the first steps to becoming a fully supported NEIU sports team.
The NEIU Eagles Hockey Club formed in November of last year and has slowly progressed into what appears to be a well-organized club. Jack Spethmann and Steve Yost, Head Coach and Assistant Captain respectively, are partially responsible for being the first organizers of the club, and have addressed the amount of dedication and hard work that is required in keeping a hockey club in working order.
When it comes to eventually becoming a fully organized school team, Spethmenn said, “Everything has been a difficulty. It’s been hard to find players from within the school to join.” The club’s ultimate goal is to eventually become a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Along with the problem of finding players, the team also has an extensive set of requirements they must first meet in order to be allowed into the ACHA and thereby officially be recognized as a school team.
The team currently plays under the Men’s Hockey League at the Northbrook Sports Center where they compete against other teams in the community. Although the team holds its origin from within NEIU, playing through Northbrook’s Hockey League has allowed players from Northbrook’s community to join, some of which have even expressed an interest in attending NEIU in order to support the organizing of a NEIU Hockey club.
With the recent Stanley Cup Championship won by the Chicago Blackhawks back in June of last year, it would seem as though hockey would have a higher spectator rate, or team memberships within Chicago. However, the truth is that despite hockey’s popularity, the sport still has a problem filling up a team roster.
Hockey is popular, but unlike other sports it’s more difficult to put together a team. Yost explained, “Sports like basketball, baseball, and football, which only require a field or court and ball don’t take long to organize. However, hockey requires extensive skill in more areas, and a list of expensive equipment, all of which is hard to come by.” Even finding other hockey players is a difficult endeavor Spethmann explained,  “When you meet another hockey player it’s almost like you build an immediate bond with them because it’s not so often you meet them.”
For now, the team practices Wednesday nights from 10:40pm – 12:10am at the Oakton Ice Arena in Park Ridge. Although the team is managed from within themselves, the coach Jack Spethmann is dedicated to training and building the team to be well-organized and productive. Their practices run just as professionally and proficient as any other veteran collegiate hockey organization. The club’s practice time has proven to be intensive, as both Spethmenn and Yost explained while showing signs of fatigue do to the practice of the night before.
The current players are fully dedicated to the club, but it’s reasonable to assume that just like any other student at NEIU, one’s schedule is usually limited when trying to manage time between school and work. This is why the club continues to ask for more players willing to join in order to keep a full roster come practice time and game day. The team is built from students of all academic years, from freshman to graduate students; with no limitations as to who can join the team. All that is asked from the club is an individual’s dedication. “Anyone is welcome to join the club; we need as much support as possible,” Said Spethmenn.
Spectators are also fully encouraged to attend games. The process of building the team is already well underway, now all the team needs is to garner interest throughout the university. It will be a continuous process in building a fully functioning team, but with the short season the club plans to play throughout the year by joining spring and summer leagues in order to keep up the development of the team.
The club is scheduled for five games this season, with the last game on Tuesday February 22 against The University of Chicago. Hoping to raise interest and support for the games, players will be wearing their team jerseys on Tuesday game days and Friday’s weekend games. Any kind of support is welcome and appreciated.


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Remaining Team Schedule (All games at Northbrook Sports Center)
Tuesday 2/1/2011 10:10pm  Rink B vs. Scorpions
Tuesday 2/22/2011 10:40pm  Rink A  vs. University of Chicago