Bear Cubs bludgeon bigger Berkeley Bears

Spencer Harris, Staff Writer

Four years ago, SRJC lost its hockey club due to a lack of interest. However, for the past two semesters, students attending SRJC petitioned to resurrect the hockey club.

Through a lot of hard work and determination, the new hockey club was granted their wish this season to compete on the ice.

Their first game was Sept. 25 against Cal-Berkeley in front of 812 cheering fans at Snoopy’s Home Ice in Santa Rosa. The team scored five goals within the first 10 minutes of action to earn an impressive and long-awaited win beating the Golden Bears with the final score 8-5.

Last semester, a group of SRJC students started organizing fundraisers so they could raise enough money to petition for a local hockey league. “We knew about the last team and thought we could get it going again,” said hockey player Marcel Delagnes. The numerous fundraisers included car washes, barbecues, raffles and donations.

At first team members petitioned for the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association (PCHA) Division III, but were denied. That didn’t dishearten them though; they petitioned for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division III and were accepted. “We had to work really hard to get where we are right now, but all the fundraisers and petitioning paid off,” said hockey player Bryan Vrba.

Every team of the ACHA Division III is considered a school club, not an actual athletic program. There are more than 150 schools in the ACHA Division III ranging from University of Florida to College of Canyons in Santa Clara, Calif.

A significant factor why the previous hockey club collapsed is because a majority of the hockey players either graduated or transferred from SRJC. “It may have gone away for awhile, but a good group of people never lost interest,” Delagnes said.

The team has to pay an annual fee of $1000 to be part of the ACHA and is struggling for funds even though it has have received donations from private sponsors and had numerous fundraisers. The team held a carwash at Star Restaurant, participated in a barbecue and competed in a mini-tournament at Snoopy’s Home Ice. The team also holds raffles during each home game to raise funds.

These players are forced to deal with factors other SRJC athletes don’t have to. The hockey club provides all its own equipment: members have to pay for all types of travel expenses, and for any ice time they may need. Other athletes may have to provide for some of their own equipment, but all the practice essentials are provided for free.

The team’s presidents and coaches are all volunteers. Tom Billeter is the head coach and his assistants are Henry Belmonte, Sean McGee and David Watson. The team’s president is Dave Rosefield and the advisor is Denny Hutton. All of them earn nothing for their hard work.

The only requirements to be part of the SRJC hockey club are that students must be taking a minimum of nine units and after three semesters on the team the student must maintain a 2.0 grade point average.

All the players and coaches understand they face a tough road ahead. However, they do believe the hockey club is here to stay. “We have done too much, worked too hard, to just let the club disappear again,” Delagnes said. The team’s next home game is against CSU Sacramento, at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 9.