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Club hockey creates a cool way to be involved at Otterbein

Club hockey creates a cool way to be involved at Otterbein

Two years ago, Adam McHugh ’17 felt that Otterbein was missing something. But it wasn’t until an almost chance encounter with a childhood friend that he knew what he should do about it.

“I looked up in class one day and saw my childhood friend Alex Morrow ’16, whom I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. We started talking about how Otterbein has such a sports-friendly atmosphere but there’s no hockey team. We decided that needed to change.”

Along with Morrow, McHugh established the Otterbein University ice hockey club team and began recruiting players on campus who were interested. Word spread faster than an NHL slapshot and the Cardinals were able to put a team on the ice the following semester in fall 2014.

Only in their second season, Otterbein is currently ranked ninth in the National Collegiate Hockey Association national poll and are in first place in the Independent Division with a 6-2 overall record, 4-0 in the division. Other Independent Division teams include Denison and Wittenberg universities in Ohio and Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania.

“This season we’re really expanding our reach to students and fans,” says McHugh, now president of the organization and team captain. “We’ve had as many as 100 to 125 people come to the games, which is unheard of for a smaller program like us. We try to schedule games to not conflict with other Otterbein sports and events to offer something different and fun.”

McHugh began his collegiate playing career at Ohio University, a school with a long tradition of club hockey, playing for the Bobcats’ D2 team, which was established in 2011. Before transferring to Otterbein, he was able to see first-hand how a team should operate during the first few years and what it takes to create a team from the ground floor.

“At OU, my main responsibilities were just to show up and play. Now I’m involved in so much more. Running the team and being a part of this tight-knit Otterbein community has really been something special,” McHugh said.

The sports management major is now using his classroom skills to take the Cardinals to the next level of competition. McHugh is in negotiations to play Marshall University this year. He also has been in contact with The Ohio State University to begin a series with them.

McHugh says Otterbein ice hockey is only growing and really making big strides to help get the university’s name out there.

“We’re being contacted by guys in Cleveland and even some from West Virginia and Kentucky who are interested in playing here. We’re offering a great opportunity to reach players from places larger programs would overlook. And they’re so grateful to have a chance to play.”

The Cardinals offer a high level of competition on the ice, but are still open to anyone joining the team to either play or get involved. McHugh said several students help run the operations of the team to build professional skills, like running the team’s website and managing campus outreach and communications.

Otterbein has one more home game scheduled, with the possibility of a second with Marshall, this month. The Cardinals will be mostly on the road starting at Cleveland State Jan. 29 and ending the season in February with a Denison tournament and a final game against Wittenberg.

“We’re just a welcoming group for hockey first-timers or veteran fans,” McHugh said. “Hockey is just another way to embrace loving being a Cardinal.”


Follow Otterbein Hockey on Twitter for team updates and news.

Visit the team’s website for up to date game times, opponents and standings.