Plattsburgh State fields hockey teams for both men and women at the varsity level, but that benefits a selective group of players. The PSUC pick-up hockey club seeks to resolve that by welcoming any student who wants to play the game.
The club plays at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena Sundays from 7:30pm to 9 p.m. The ice is open to both men and women to play just for fun.
Attendance varies from week to week, and some weeks the club makes do with only a single goalie, but the goal is just to have fun.
Mike Cafiero is one of the students on the ice nearly every Sunday to play the game he loves.
“It’s something I look forward to every week,” Cafiero said. “I get to relieve stress just coming here to play.”
That view is reflected by PSUC junior transfer Cailee Laporte, a native of Chazy.
“I’m kind of a washed-up college player,” Laporte said. “I transfered to Plattsburgh this semester just to move back home. I’m just here to keep myself in shape and play a game I enjoy.”
Laporte’s brother, Noah, also plays with the club, which Laporte said is a nice way to spend time with him.
Laporte is instantly noticeable as the only woman on the ice but would welcome any other interested women to join.
“It would be a nice mix to get more players out here,” Laporte said. “It would be nice to see more local kids come out – boys, girls, anyone.”
In the meantime, Laporte doesn’t mind playing with the men.
“It’s an old feeling,” Laporte said “I played with the boys up until I was 14 or 15, so it’s a welcome-back-home thing. It’s a lot faster than I’m used to, so I’m definitely feeling it in my legs every day.”
Laporte transferred from Lindenwood University in St. Louis, where she played for the Lions’ ACHA-affiliated club team for two years.
The American Collegiate Hockey Association, which fields three divisional championships for men and two for women, is the governing body for club-level ice hockey, similar to the NCAA’s role with varsity sports.
Fielding an ACHA team is a goal for PSUC junior and club co-president David Herer, who has been playing with the club since his freshman year.
“I think we have the players, if we get everything done,” Herer said.
When asked about the logistics of creating an ACHA team, Herer acknowledged that the plan is still very much in its infancy, but thinks he has the players to make it a reality.
The ACHA requires new teams to file an application packet and pay a $300 fee. The application packet would need to include detailed information about team bylaws, organizational structure, facilities, criteria for hiring a coach, code of conduct and academic integrity policies. The packet would also need to include detailed information about funding sources and the overall projected budget.
“The application and the questions it contains will provide insight into some of the challenges a team may face,” said Mo Stroemel, director of hockey operations for the ACHA. “It can also help to make sure that the team is thinking of all the aspects of running a team that will need to consider.”
ACHA bylaws prohibit new teams from joining Division 1 if the school fields an NCAA team, so PSUC would be restricted to Divisions 2 or 3 if an ACHA team were to be formed. Both Divisions require all member teams to pay $1,700 in annual dues, in addition to the significant budget that would be required for travel and lodging costs and to pay for ice time.
“I don’t know the economics of it,” Herer said. “It’s a lot, but a lot of these guys were paying that much when they were playing high school and playing travel [hockey]. If they want it, they would do it.”
Regardless of efforts to create an ACHA team, the club continues to meet on Sundays when classes are in session. If for no other reason, these students gather for the love of the game.
“I’ve been playing hockey since the second grade,” Cafiero said. “I can’t get away from it. It’s the f—ing best sport ever.”
Email Nathanael LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org