Youngstown State University hasn’t had a hockey team since the 2012-13 season.
At the time, hockey was recognized as a club sport because the Horizon League did not sponsor or sanction hockey. Instead, the American Collegiate Hockey Association and College Hockey Mid-America sanctioned the hockey club.
Eight years ago, the hockey team was led by head coach Brad Patterson and anchored by players such as defenseman Alex Arnold and forwards Dan Jech, Jay Young and Brandon Bishop.
Enzo Recchia now runs the team and recruits potential players for the 2015-16 season — along with Jech and Justin Passer.
Jech recalls when the team was dropped due to a lack of funding last year.
“We lost our financial backing from the school and from our main supporter, Phantom Fireworks,” Jech said. “It was just too expensive to keep going with the number of guys that we had.”
Passaro and Recchia each first thought of bringing hockey back last year when they were freshmen.
“We were looking forward to playing hockey, but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” Passaro said. “Dan was still around as a senior last year. He and his dad were in charge of the program then. We contacted them and got everything together. We’re in the process of getting everything organized right now.”
When the team takes shape, Recchia hopes that they’ll be playing in Division II of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
“It’s really competitive club hockey,” he said. “We’ll play teams like Pitt, Ohio University, Akron, Kentucky and [Ohio State University].”
When asked why the Horizon League still doesn’t back hockey, Jech pointed to the lack of economics associated with funding a hockey program.
“I think that the schools involved in the Horizon League don’t have the money to support such a program,” Jech said.
Passaro echoed Jech’s comment when asked.
“Hockey is one of the most expensive sports to fund,” Passaro said.
Due to the lack of competition to any other team, the players are unsure if the Horizon League will ever sponsor hockey.
“You have to make sure the schools are competitive with each other and with other leagues like the Big Ten,” Passaro said.
Recchia and the other members of the team are currently recruiting potential players.
“If anyone’s interested in playing at a competitive level, it’s a challenge to yourself to be able to play competitively collegiately,” he said. “You’re making the right plays on the ice and the right plays off the ice.”