It’s 11:50 on a Wednesday night in Taunton. The sound of skates stopping and sticks tapping can be heard as the Wheaton Men’s Ice Hockey club finishes the last ten minutes of their weekly practice.
The Wheaton Whalers, who play out of Alexio Skating Arena in Taunton and compete as a Divison II team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), are looking to start strong this year. Due to rules that forbid NCAA Division I programs from having Division I club teams, the Wheaton Whalers often play against hockey powerhouses, such as the Brown University club team, filled with players hoping to be recruited for their respective varsity NCAA teams.
The Whalers are looking to legitimize the program again and hope to compete against the likes of Brown, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Bentley University, and Suffolk University, among others.
Captains and Co-Presidents of the club Brian Mylett ’15 and Christopher McCormack ’15 are look to take the team to the next level.
“This year, Chris McCormack and myself have really talked about adding some legitimacy to the program,” said Mylett. “We want to play a tougher schedule and have more organized practices all while still having a lot of fun.”
Legitimacy to Mylett doesn’t just mean harder practices for the team; it means becoming a bigger part of the Wheaton community.
After a disappointing 2013 season that did not feature any home games, Mylett and McCormack hope to make Friday night hockey part of Wheaton students’ regular weekend lineups.
“Club hockey has a great atmosphere. A lot of times, games are played on Friday nights when not a lot is going on around campus. It’s a great source of entertainment, and I often hear from people how good of a time they have at games,” said Mylett. “I know we as players feed off of the crowd and although it’s a club, it often has the atmosphere of a varsity sport.”
It’s not just about giving the fans a good time for Mylett; he wants the team to do something more. The team is planning on playing a cancer awareness game sometime in October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Using the funds generated by fan attendence, the team plans on donating to cancer research organizations.
Mylett notes, “We want this team to do more than just play hockey. [We also want to] make an impact on the Wheaton community by bringing people together for a great cause.”
Mylett encourages anyone interested in ice hockey to consider joining the club and offers up his own reasons for his involvement.
“Club hockey is a great way to meet friends,” he said. “As a freshman here at Wheaton, I played baseball and knew mainly only baseball guys. When I was a sophomore, I joined club hockey and made some great friendships I otherwise wouldn’t have had. It has been one of the highlights of my time here at Wheaton and it’s something I will definitely miss next year. Hockey locker-rooms always seem to breed close friendships and that has not changed for me at the club level.”