Augustana hockey looks to compete

Rarely having enough players to fill the ice, the Augustana men’s club hockey team used to be at a “bare-minimum”  type status, but now their situation has drastically shifted.
According to lone senior forward Craig Steinkamp, this year proves to be a year of change for the club starting with the up in roster numbers.
“In the past, we used to call a lot of our games iron man hockey because we would only play with two people on the bench and five on the ice with one goalie,” said Steinkamp. “This year we are starting off pretty awesome with what amounts to be a full roster, in my eyes, because we have around 15 or 16 people.”
Due to having a more complete roster, the team hopes to have the ability to finish out games and win, especially with their ACHA DI schedule as a DII based team this season.
“The last few years when we would play, we would end up being able to stick with a team through the second period, but then we would only have so many guys and they became gassed,” said Steinkamp. “By the end of the second, the game would turn into a catastrophe.”
In order to keep games in control throughout the year, the team understands the significance the depth of their overall roster holds. It’s no secret that underclassmen represent more than half the team. Currently, the club has 10 freshman and three sophomores, clearly outnumbering the four upperclassman on the roster.
Sophomore defender Andrew Kladiva said he believes the level and skill of players from seasons past have gone up.
“This year we have a lot of freshmen and new goalie on the team that have a lot of skill that we will be needing playing a lot of DI programs,” said Kladiva. “Now, we have a bigger and better chance against some of these tough teams this year.”
As of now, the club is playing as a DII team, with the mentality to reach the ACHA DI level.
“We wanted to change the face of our program from just a bunch of guys that like hockey to an actual hockey team,” said freshman goalie David Volkmann. “We want to be able to make a shift from a DII club team to a DI club team.”
With a shift in roster numbers and team focus as an entirety, the players want the Augustana community to get to know their team.
“Even as this year as a team, we are a lot closer,” said sophomore forward Austin Whelan. From the first day that we all skated together, we all started to build a bond that has grown a lot quicker than people might expect over the last two weeks.”
Developing a strong team bond is just one of the team’s goals this season; however, they have another one in mind.
“We want to get people at the school out to our games, and we want to be recognized by the school as a full on team,” said Kladiva. Like people go and watch football on the weekend, we want them to come out and watch hockey and build a good fan base.”
The team plays and practices at The River’s Edge over the river in Davenport, a close distance from Augutana’s campus. They play their next home game on Sept. 18 against Bradley University.
“Especially with the guys we have this year, our hockey is going to be fun to watch,” said Whelan. “We have fan busses that will take people to our games every weekend, and it’s a fun and easy way to get your friends together for some hockey and a good time.”