Gorloks on Ice, anyone?
By Michael Langston
With the St. Louis Blues winning their first Stanley Cup, prospective students on tours are starting to ask if Webster has an ice hockey team, according to Gorlok Guides in the Office of Admission. Current students such as senior tennis player Riley Muren are taking a heightened interest in hockey as well.
Muren found his own love of the sport playing with friends and in a men’s pick-up league. He was adamant he would try out and play on a Gorlok ice hockey team if it was offered for students.
“I think students would like it,” Muren said “It seemed like everyone was into the Blues and they would be into watching hockey. I wish they did it now.”
Sharing in Muren’s want of a Webster hockey team is senior Sam Snyder. She hosts “Chick Trick,” a hockey-focused podcast. Snyder said the Stanley Cup victory has been a factor in growing hockey interest at Webster among current and prospective students.
“Hockey has been a growing sport in St. Louis for some time,” Snyder said. “The Stanley Cup has definitely brought the city together and exposed more casual fans to the sport.”
Snyder said when the high of winning Lord Stanley’s Cup finally wears off, a team at Webster would be able to thrive independently of the Blues.
“We didn’t just flip a switch and suddenly become a hockey town,” Snyder said. “The passion for hockey will continue.”
A new hockey team would bring the dilemma of having it for either men, women or both. Hockey fan and Webster junior Zoey Bruce said it might matter to students if it was only offered for one gender.
“I do think this would be a bit of an issue with the student body,” Bruce said. “I’m sure it would bother many people for not getting a team for both men and women.”
Snyder concurred with Bruce.
“Women’s sports tend to not get as much attention,” Snyder said. “I would hope hockey fans would go see [hockey] regardless.”
She also said the only Division I hockey team in St. Louis is the women’s team at Lindenwood.
Webster athletic director Scott Kilgallon said Title IX implications could ensue if hockey was only offered for one gender. Hockey would need to be offered for both men and women, which would double the costs of having a team, according to Kilgallon.
There are many Division III hockey programs, but the logistics of getting a team started are very complex, according to Kilgallon. He says it would take many steps to get a team started and competing in NCAA games.
Kilgallon said the first thing to be done for a potential new team would be a cost analysis. The cost analysis would look at the budget implications of infrastructure, trainers, sports information, athletic trainers, travel schedules, missed class times and other factors.
Finding a conference for the team would be the next step. He estimates it would take a few years to be established and considered by a conference as a start-up hockey program. There were many more obstacles Kilgallon mentioned that need to be resolved before any Gorlok hockey players could hit the ice.
“[We] need to hire coaches minimally a year out to recruit. Aligning with the conference sport offerings to qualify for NCAA Tournaments: SLIAC, Webster’s athletic conference, has no schools that offer ice hockey. At the Division III level, the majority of colleges that offer hockey are on the East Coast and in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This results in high travel costs and missed class time.”
Finding facilities is one of the largest aspects for a Webster hockey team. There are local options for facilities. Muren said the Webster Ice Center (WIC) is an option three minutes from campus. Kilgallon said there are requirements for a potential rink.
“Successful hockey programs should have a facility that can accommodate 1,800 to 2,000 spectators,” Kilgallon said. “Ice time is expensive, along with equipment and infrastructure support.”
Currently, the WIC can seat 900 spectators. Other facilities around the area, such as the new Maryville University Hockey Center (MUHC) or the Blues’ new practice home, the Centene Community Ice Center, meet the seating recommendations. However, they could cost up to $20,000 a season to rent for one team, according to MUHC management.
In the end, no matter what happens with a possible team at Webster, Snyder said hockey will always have a place on campus.
“Webster is small and hockey is the same way, you know someone who knows someone,” Snyder said. “You’re gonna have friends of friends. It’s a family in a way.”