Ice hockey thrives in 25th season at USF

The Ice Bulls, pictured on a road trip to Denver this past weekend, are 10-4 so far in their 25th season. PHOTO PROVIDED BY USF ICE BULLS

Florida is typically known for its outdoor sports, but at USF, hockey has been a staple since 1989. 

Ice Hockey Club president Aaron Humphrey said the club has made strides this year and is proud of its history. 

“This year is our 25th year as a club at USF,” Humphrey said. “We actually have a good team this year. We’re looking to make it to regionals and our record is currently 10-4. Hopefully we can continue that trend all the way to nationals, but we’ll see what happens.”

While playing for the Ice Hockey Club is a big time commitment, it also a large financial investment as equipment doesn’t come cheap, Humphrey said.

The typical cost to put one player on the ice is roughly $2,500, with the most expensive equipment being skates and essential protections such as a helmet and gloves. Despite the cost, Humphrey said the club’s member count has stayed consistent over the years. 

“Numbers have never really been an issue. I think my freshman year was the only real problem, which was the lowest at 15 members and that was all from injuries,” he said. “Since my freshman year, we’ve always had 20-plus players and it’s never been a problem.”

The Ice Bulls play at the Ellenton Ice Arena, just northeast of Bradenton, which can lead to some long nights of driving for the team. 

“Considering our rink is 45 minutes away and the time we spend at the rink, we practice for three hours, so it’s about four to five hours from going there to coming back,” Humphrey said. “We travel all across the state and the country, so it’s a big time commitment along with keeping up in school.”

Andrew Silvers, a member of the Ice Hockey Club, said the dedication is something that everyone has to buy into. 

“It’s a long season and we give up a lot of Friday and Saturday nights to play, but everyone on the team knows it’s worth it,” Silvers said. “We all love the game. Even our coaches are committed, as well.”

Silvers currently leads the American Collegiate Hockey Association in points (40) and assists (20) and feels honored to represent USF nationally.

“Things have been going well for me this year, and I’ve been lucky to have great teammates help me reach this point so far, especially my linemates Matt Meyer and Michael Pelletier,” Silvers said. 

Many feel that the legitimacy of the club is tainted by the tagline “club,” but Silvers said the team is as talented and official as any varsity sport on campus.

“Since hockey is a club sport at USF, it probably doesn’t get the credit that it deserves, but a lot of these guys that are in the league have played at a very high level of hockey,” Silvers said.  “The team here at USF doesn’t get a lot of attention like other schools’ hockey teams like UCF or FGCU, but we’re just as competitive as those teams and if a student here at USF enjoys watching hockey, they should come out to support us during our home games.”

Humphrey said the club has plans to travel soon and compete against some elite

“We play all the major schools in Florida: UCF, FGCU, FAU and FSU,” Humphrey said. “We’re making trips this year to Colorado State, Metropolitan State, University of Denver and University of North Denver.” 

One of the main goals for Humphrey, though, is ensuring the longevity of the club once he graduates.

“Our number one (priority) should be making sure we’re still a club,” Humphrey said. “I think after that it’s making sure the club has a good environment and getting out into the community and raising hockey awareness and making sure future teams can make it to regionals and nationals.”