Article from Palm Beach Post:
FAU hockey team pays to play
By Brad Sonneborn
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 01, 2004
Hockey fans depressed over the NHL lockout can take solace in the fact there still is competitive hockey being played in South Florida. The Florida Atlantic University club ice hockey team begins its third season tonight when it travels to Orlando to take on Central Florida.
Although the club status means it is not funded or supported like a varsity sport at FAU, Lawrence Lavender, the club's president and general manager said it would be a mistake to assume the team is not serious.
"We have probably 10 kids on our team who are going to FAU specifically to play for this team," Lavender said.
One of those players is Erik Bentley, a 19-year-old freshman goaltender. Bentley grew up in South Florida, but played the past two years at prep schools in Massachusetts. After serving as the goalie last year at the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., Bentley said he received interest from the hockey programs at Connecticut and Suffolk University in Boston. Instead, the lure of coming back home and playing for FAU drew him back to South Florida.
"I knew that FAU had a really strong program," Bentley said. "It wasn't just going to be some chump team. That was one of my biggest draws in coming here."
The Owls, who compete in American Collegiate Hockey Association, began play in 2002 and have a 27-7-1 record in two seasons. The team's 24-game schedule includes games against Wyoming, Colorado, Tulane, Georgia Tech and Florida State.
Lavender said that as a club sport, FAU receives $15,000 a year from the school's student government. However, with ice time at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, the team's home rink, costing $275 an hour and other expenses for things such as travel and game programs, Lavender said his team requires $55,000 a year to operate. Any money not raised through sponsorships or donations is covered by the players. Lavender said last year the players each paid about $2,000 for the chance to play.
"They're doing it because they absolutely love the game and they're playing for their school," Lavender said. "They have a little sense of pride with that."
The Owls' goal is to be one of 16 teams to qualify for the ACHA Division III Nationals, which will be held in March at California University of Pennsylvania. The first home game is Nov. 5 against Florida Gulf Coast.