In order to play club hockey at Michigan, a player needs one thing – a love of the game.

“This is the most fun I have ever had playing hockey,” senior forward John Dobrez said. “It’s the first time playing with people from my school because I played travel hockey in high school. The camaraderie is amazing. It’s a lot of fun, it’s still competitive and you make so many friends.

“I can’t imagine going to college without club hockey. It’s the greatest part of college life.”

When Dobrez came to Michigan, he said club hockey sounded appealing. But he was unsure how high the level of competition would be.

“I didn’t know what to expect coming to play club hockey at Michigan,” Dobrez said.

But that uncertainty was about to pass.

“At tryouts, I finally realized just how good the competition was,” Dobrez said. “There were a lot of really good players.”

Dobrez cites the locker-room atmosphere as another reason why he knew that club hockey was going to be a blast.

“Everyone in the locker room was great,” Dobrez said. “The upperclassmen took me in right away and made me feel welcomed. I knew it was going to be a great time.”

One advantage of club hockey is that the time commitment isn’t too extreme. The 25-player team practices twice during the week, and plays twice during the weekend. That schedule gives the players plenty of time off to do other things.

Pat Georgoff, for instance, is involved with Crossing Borders, a group whose mission is to inform students of foreign cultural prejudice.

At the same time, these players realize that club hockey could be the end of their hockey careers.

“What motivates me is the realization that this is my last four years to play real competitive hockey,” Dobrez said.

Just like any other team at Michigan, the Wolverine’s biggest rivals are Ohio State and Michigan State.

“Those games mean a lot to all of us regardless of the teams’ records.”

For these players, it’s one thing to win a game against opponents of that caliber. But the pride they feel when wearing a jersey that sports the block ‘M’ on the front is quite another. That translates into exemplary team chemistry, which is one of the reasons this rookie-laden team has gotten off to a 10-6-1 start even with losses that Dobrez believes the team should have won.

The Wolverines have a 33-game season with home games at Yost Ice Arena that barely draw a couple hundred fans.

But that doesn’t matter to Dobrez and the rest of the Wolverines.

“We do it because we love the game,” Dobrez said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.