With lots of experienced players and their best record ever, the SHSU Club In-line Hockey Team is heading for the play-offs once again, this time with the hope of earning its first bid to the National Championship.
The Bearkats, currently in their 10th year of play, are ranked second in their division and sixth in the nation. During their first nine years, the Bearkats were highly successful and reached the play-offs eight times. This season under Coach Charles Ferguson, the team will make its ninth trip to the play-offs after failing to make the post-season last year for the first and only time.
“This year, we’ve got a lot of experienced players,” team captain Juddy Ferguson said. “Our main goal is to get a bid to the National Championship in North Carolina. If we get there, we’ll get to play teams like Boston College and the University of Michigan.”
The SHSU Club In-line Hockey Team (14-3) plays in Division II of the Southwest Collegiate Hockey League (SCHL), which is comprised of nine teams from schools such as the University of Houston, Stephen F. Austin University and Texas Christian University.
The team is one of many club teams partially funded by and representing SHSU. According to Ferguson, the university provides jerseys and pants and funds rink time for the team to practice and host games at Shoot-Out, a rink located in the Spring area. The university also covers the $3,500 it costs for the team to be a member of the SCHL. Players are expected to provide their own equipment.
“We are in an adult league at Shoot-Out so we play a game every Tuesday with them,” Ferguson said. “Then we have a two hour practice after that. Our regular games are set up with three games played over a weekend.”
In order to find the best players for the team, try-outs are held during the first and second weeks of school each year. Hockey coaches from around the Houston area are brought in to evaluate players and select who makes the team. This year, there are two goalies and 14 skaters on the SHSU roster.
“They look at puck handling and other skills and evaluate each player’s ability,” Ferguson said.
The team’s season begins around the end of October and runs through the middle of March. This year for the play-offs, SHSU will be seeded second, behind The University of Texas-Dallas.
“We need to work on communicating on the court and improve our passing,” Ferguson said. “But we’ve got an outstanding offense and an outstanding defense. We didn’t have those last year.”