UB roller hockey team on the way to San Jose
It's a short drive from UB to the Kenan Center at 433 Locust Street in Lockport; a drive that members of the UB roller hockey club team know well because they make it every Tuesday night to practice. However, the team could not be found there this past week.
Instead the team was on its way to the 2010 National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association National Championships at the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose, Calif.
The UB roller hockey club team, called the UB Wings, started competing in the Northern Conference of the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) in 1998.
The UB Wings currently have two teams, a Division I team and a B Division team. The team usually holds tryouts in September, and 16 of about 25 players made the cut this year. Eligibility rules require players to take at least nine credits at UB in order to compete.
Senior Tyler Walser captains the DI team, while sophomore Bryan Feiler leads the B team and also serves as the club's president.
Although most students do not know about the UB Wings, they are one of the teams in UB's sports club program.
"The team is run through the Student Association," Feiler said. "We get a budget from SA. Then each person pays out of pocket, a lucrative amount of money."
Both teams made it to the NCRHA National Championships this year. SA helped pay for the team's entry fees, but the players pay for travel and rooming costs.
This is the second time in the three years that both teams have made it to the championship, the last time was in 2008.
The DI team went 17-0-1 in regular season play and the B team went 11-5. Each team competed at ECRHA Regional Finals for their divisions in Feasterville, PA from March 5-7.
Buffalo's DI team took down Stony Brook (4-13-1), West Point (9-4-5), and rival Towson (11-6-1) by finals of 10-1, 5-3, and 12-2, respectively. The three victories advanced them to the semi-finals against Rutgers (12-6).
Buffalo defeated Rutgers in a decisive manner, 9-1. This set up a rematch of last year's Division I Regional Championships between Buffalo and Rhode Island (15-5-2). Last year Buffalo lost in overtime, despite holding a 2-0 lead for most of the game.
Senior Shaun Golden scored the opening goal for Buffalo just 46 seconds into the game. Rhode Island quickly tied it up but then freshman Chris Kendall scored a goal with two minutes remaining in the first period.
Rhode Island controlled the puck early in the second, but Walser regained momentum for Buffalo and scored in the 5th minute. Rhode Island came back to tie it up, 3-3, at the end of the second.
Buffalo scored three unanswered goals in the third period to cruise to the ECRHA DI Championship title. With this, the DI team clinched an automatic bid to Nationals in San Jose beginning April 7th.
The UB Wings' B squad earned a bid to Nationals after defeating Suffolk CC (5-10-1), Stony Brook (5-10-1), and Towson (8-5-3) by scores of 6-2, 6-1, and 3-0, respectively. Buffalo took on West Chester (14-2) in the semi-finals. After trailing early on, 7-3, the Wings came from behind and scored five unanswered goals to pull off an 8-7 come from behind victory.