Despite the success of USF’s Ice Bulls hockey club team, it is still relatively unknown on campus. Regardless, what the club lacks in recognition it makes up for in history.
Ice Bulls hockey was started in 1987 by USF students Eric Mattson and Chip McCarthy. The team held its first tryouts in 1989 and became the first official college hockey team in Florida. The success started that year as the team finished its inaugural season with an 8-3 record.
Today, the Ice Bulls are a Division III member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), and are ranked second in the ACHA South standings with an 18-10 record. The team is trailing the University of Central Florida, which it plays Feb. 8-9.
The ranking that matters to the Ice Bulls is the ACHA South Regional. They are tied for 7th. This ranking decides which teams go to the ACHA South Regional playoffs. If the Ice Bulls win, they’ll go to the ACHA DIII National Championship.
Coach Jay Jodoin, who has been coaching hockey for six years and is in his fourth year with USF, leads the Ice Bulls. Jodoin – like three former coaches of the team – previously played for the Ice Bulls. He credits some of the program’s success to them.
“The coaches used to play here and then they wanted to give back to the team so they became coaches,” Jodoin said.
The postseason looks promising for the Ice Bulls, who have been hot as of late, winning four of their last six games. The four wins came in the first Madison Goss tournament, which the Bulls hosted and won. All proceeds from the tournament were donated to charities relating to pediatric cancer, such as the Madison Goss Fund. Madison is a 3-year-old girl suffering from a rare form of cancer.
“My favorite moment would have to be winning the tournament that we hosted, and playing and beating two Division II teams,” team captain Sean Williams said.
The Ice Bulls defeated the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and in the championship game, a heavily favored Life University squad.
Beating Division II teams has boosted the Ice Bulls’ motivation and confidence, which is key when heading into the postseason against the best teams in the region.
Co-captain Connor Lyons, who is third in the ACHA in goals with 38, believes the Ice Bulls will fare well in the postseason because they are playing together as a team now.
“We have a good shot even though we lost some key players at the winter break,” Lyons said. “Now we are closer as a team, which helps going into the postseason.”
In the future, Jodoin expects the Ice Bulls to become a D-II team, especially after playing some D-II teams.
The Ice Bulls play their home games at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. Their schedule and more information can be found at their Web site, icebulls.org. Their last home game is Feb. 9 against rival UCF at 9:30 p.m. Entry to the games is free for USF students with student ID.