The Sam Houston State University inline hockey team has been nationally recognized as one of the Top-16 inline hockey programs in the nation. The team finished their regular season with a 7-9 overall record, with one of the losses being from an overtime defeat, and a 4-6 record in the playoffs.
SHSU Inline hockey has seen a significant amount of growth within the past year. The club went from starting from scratch to be a nationally ranked club.
“We had to start from scratch and from there it was finding a team,” said Sophomore goaltender Tim O’Sullivan. “We started out as a group chat just wanting to play hockey as most of us have a large history in hockey at high levels and our current president, Brad Duggan, went way above and beyond any leader, president or captain I have ever worked with.”
SHSU finished second in the Southwest Collegiate Hockey League with a tally of 15 points on the season. Helping lead the charge for the Bearkats, O’Sullivan led the SCHL and placed fourth in the national ranks in saves with 430 saves in the 16 games during the regular season.
The Bearkats feel that being nationally ranked shows the amount of work that the players have put into the club.
“It’s a complete honor to be nationally ranked,” said O’Sullivan. “It reflects the amount of work we put in. To be recognized among one of the best D2 programs in the nation after one full season back is unreal. It is a complete honor.”
SHSU was able to snatch up the SCHL trophy against the reigning champion Arkansas, but the task was not easy. The team earned the win against the University of Arkansas in a 5-4 overtime victory on Feb 25 in Denton, TX. The win helped the team secure a spot to compete for the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association national title in Fargo, ND.
“The win was against Arkansas, who at that point was undefeated all season and we beat them 5-4 in overtime,” O’Sullivan said. “We were out shot that game something like 45-20 that game too, so I saw a ton of action in that game (being the goalie).”
Before competing nationally, the Bearkats had a rough start to their season. SHSU won two games in the first half of the season, both of which were against D1 program Texas Tech. Then, things turned around in the second half of the campaign, going 5-3 to end the season and capture the SCHL trophy.
“We started slow, like really slow,” O’Sullivan said. “We were not winning games and a lot of us were having a hard time transitioning for ice hockey to inline. but the more practices and games we played, the better we got. We put our best games together at the championship weekend for the SCHL which we took down Arkansas and put an end to their 5 straight years of winning the league.”
The team did fall short of a national title after going 4-6 in the playoffs. SHSU is not worried, though, as the Bearkats feel confident that they can make another playoff run next year.
“If we continue to grow,” O’Sullivan said. “We have the passion and they drive. We also have a great group of guys willing to step up and take over. We are set up for success.”