Men’s club hockey athletes go the distance to compete

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Men’s club hockey athletes go the distance to compete

The WSU men's club hockey team plays a game in Spokane on Jan. 30.

The WSU men's club hockey team plays a game in Spokane on Jan. 30.

The WSU men's club hockey team plays a game in Spokane on Jan. 30.

The WSU men's club hockey team plays a game in Spokane on Jan. 30.

JAMIE JONES | Evergreen reporter

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Willingness to sacrifice and true commitment are two major keys to success for the WSU men’s hockey team. This year the Cougs took South Lake Tahoe, California and made a statement by finishing strong when they placed fifth in the championship tournament.

The WSU men’s hockey team is associated with the Pacific 8 Intercollegiate Hockey Conference. The Pac-8 is made up of all teams in the Pac-12 except for Colorado, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State.

The team placed fifth in the Pac-8 tournament this year.

The team grew considerably. They had only ten members on the team last year and now have three full lines and three pairs of defensemen.

Among those ten players, WSU sophomore Daniel Sosa is a team officer. Team officers lead practices since the team’s coach lives in Bellevue and commutes for games. They are dedicated to refining the team’s skills through effective practices and drills.

“The officers come up with a practice plan and that we’ll run before practice,” Sosa said. “Then when practice starts the officers will explain all the drills to the team.”

Talent will only get a team so far. The team values the leadership of the team officers and brotherhood among the players that Sosa attributes to the team’s true success on and off the ice.

“We’d do anything for each other,” Sosa said. “If a friend needed help with homework or if a friend is down because of a lost relative, the team has their back.”

WSU senior Ryan Maul, originally from Pullman, has 19 years of hockey experience under his belt and is also excited about the new spirit of the team.

“You don’t want to let the person down next to you,” Maul said. “There’s a lot of new kids and young players on the team so they have revamped our team and got us excited.”

Head Coach Chris Soriano loves the game just as much as any of his players. Because he commutes to games, he relies on the club officers to lead practices each week.

Not being fully committed is not an option. They travel 45 minutes to Lewiston, Idaho, to attend their practices once a week.

“Everyone is a team player on our team, it is definitely really hard not having a coach at practice, we just need to be accountable on ourselves,” Sosa said.

The trust and accountability that the team has for one another is critical to the team’s achievements. WSU men’s hockey takes on tough opponents in the Pac-8 and Division 1 universities in Washington, California and Arizona states.

WSU sophomore and team member JD Dunn is a Seattle native. He learned to skate when he was only 3 years old and started playing hockey when he was 6 years old.

“Everyone on our team loves hockey and are very passionate and that is what gives our team the drive to beat some other teams who have bigger rinks, more practices, whereas we have a small rink but we’re still passionate,” Dunn said.