That’s right: Lewis and Clark Community College has a hockey team that you probably didn’t know about. Now we don’t necessarily have a hockey team at our school, but through the SIUE Partnership Program or Dual-Admission program, it allows L&C students the opportunity to play SIUE club sports. The program was made to help make the transfer from a two-year university to a four-year university easier. It gives L&C students general acceptance into SIUE, which gives them access to SIUE staff including academic advisors, transfer coordinators and financial aid counselors. If you are a part of the program, you are technically a SIUE student which would allow you to sign up for their club sports teams.
SIUE has two different club hockey teams, both teams play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, but one plays Division two (D2) and the other plays in Division three (D3). According to SIUE D2 Head Coach Nick Edwards, there are currently eight L&C students playing on the D2 and D3 hockey teams. “It’s a huge help to have the L&C players on the team. They’re great guys to have in the locker room and are some of the leaders on the team,” said SIUE D2 President/Defenseman Kain Henson.
Due to the two SIUE hockey teams being a club sport, recruitment is more difficult. Since the school doesn’t sponsor the team in the capacity it sponsors their NCAA D1 sports, finding players for the two teams is a task each year. The club teams don’t have the funds or power to offer students scholarships, so recruitment is based solely on if students attending the school want to play hockey. SIUE isn’t considered a “hockey school” so most of the time students don’t attend the school to play hockey. By allowing the L&C students in the Dual-Admission program the opportunity to play for the teams, it gives them another place to get players from. Even though there are only eight students playing on the two teams, it’s a huge help considering each team only dresses 20 players for games.
“What’s unique about the team is that a majority of the players that play on the team are from the local area. A lot of the guys on the team grew up either playing with or against each other, so there’s already a good chemistry when they join the team,” said SIUE D3 Assistant Coach Ben Winterberg. Just about everybody on the two teams has played in the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association (MVCHA), which is the local high school hockey league. Some the high schools that make up the MVCHA are Alton, Edwardsville, Jerseyville, Granite City, East Alton-Wood River, and Bethalto.
A popular path to higher education among students from local high schools starts at Lewis and Clark Community College. A lot of students like to attend Lewis and Clark before going to a four-year university because of the affordability and they’re still trying to figure out what they want to do. Lewis and Clark student and SIUE D2 Assistant Captain Tyler Gilleland is one of those students that decided to start at L&C rather than starting at a four-year university. “I really like going to L&C. It’s close to home and more affordable than other schools. I think it’s great that I can start my degree at L&C and still play hockey at a competitive level with the SIUE team,” said Gilleland.
Due to the high amount of L&C players on the team this year, the SIUE hockey team has decided to allow L&C students free admission to all of the D2 and D3 home games as long as they bring a student ID. They play their games in East Alton at the East Alton Ice Arena.
ALEX ST. PETERS