It may not be common knowledge, but believe it or not the University of Washington Husky Club Hockey team has been around since 1921. In this post, we explain the UW Husky Club Hockey program with help from Head Coach Matt Cleeton, Assistant Coach/team alumni Jordan Fitzgibbon, and current player Evan Reeve.
UW hockey is a non-varsity club team that is ran and funded by UW students. Students range in age from freshman to graduate student. Students and therefore players come from all over the nation and beyond. Due to the variety of backgrounds and limited player pool, skill level on the team can vary. The majority of the players have played anywhere from AA to Junior A. A few players over the years have turned pro, and two current players play for the Taiwanese national team.
Per Jordan Fitzgibbon, team alumni and now Assistant Coach, “It is difficult to recruit. We get interest from potential players but with UW’s high admission standards some of them don’t get in. Our pool of players is limited to those who are already attending UW so it’s important to us to raise as much awareness as possible within the school.” Regarding recruiting, Head Coach Matt Cleeton adds “We reach out to kids through recruiting sites, communicating with youth and junior coaches. Some kids reach out to us and then we keep in touch with them. Word of mouth from current players. (We) will meet up with kids when they visit the school. Prospect skate is in the spring (each year).”
Evan Reeve, Senior Goaltender (#31) adds that “club (hockey) means we do get a little support from the school, but most of our funding comes from the players themselves and generous donations from different companies or entities. We pay for our own gear, ice time, uniforms, transportation, hotels etc., so all of our players are really committed to the team.”
The team practices twice a week, and plays 2-3 games on a given weekend between Late September and February at Olympicview Arena in Mountlake Terrace.
The Huskies play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), which is a national league. The official description of the ACHA is “non-varsity collegiate athletics” which means intercollegiate athletics, but schools are not allowed to give any kind of scholarship or financial aid for participation. There are 3 Men’s Divisions in the ACHA, and UW plays in Division 2 West, and are part of the Pac 8 Conference. The Pac 8 started as a conference made up of universities in the Pac 12 NCAA conference. This season the Pac 8 added 4 new teams and so the conference now has 12 teams – UW, WSU, Boise State, WWU, EWU, Oregon, UCLA, USC, CAL, SDSU, SJSU, ASU. The team will play in the Pac 8 tournament in Tahoe at the end of the year. Should the Huskies win that tournament, they will advance to the western regional for a shot at playing in Nationals.
Team Goals and Rivals
Coach Matt states that the Huskies’ main goals each year are to win the I-5 cup (rivalry series with Oregon), win the Pac 8 championship, and make regionals. UW hockey also hopes to continue to grow as a program, and move up to ACHA Division 1.
The team has good rivalries with WWU and WSU, but the consensus is that the team’s biggest rival is Oregon.
What They Want You to Know
Evan: “I’d start by restating how dedicated our players are. There really isn’t any compensation for this besides playing the sport we love. It’s not cheap and we play up to 40 games a season, while practicing into the early hours of the morning twice a week. We are still required to maintain acceptable grades as well while missing classes while on the road. And of course we are all super excited for the NHL to come here!”
Jordan: “They’re all there because they love hockey and for most of them it will be the last competitive hockey that they play. We are extremely appreciative of our fans and supporters. It is awesome having a crowd there cheering us on and it raises our energy level.”
Please join us for NHL to Seattle night where the Huskies (7-5) will face Boise State (8-3-1) on Friday November 9th at 7pm. UW will be selling an exclusive NHLtoSeattle Tshirt that will raise funds for their hockey season and we will have several prize packs to be raffled off during the intermissions.
The rest of the Huskies schedule can be found here.