Ducks hockey on the rise

The team is striving to compete at the Division I level.

Posted: Feb 4, 2019 7:27 PM

Eugene, OR. -- While other teams are done for the day, Oregon hockey is just getting started.

"We're using a public rink so we don't always get the prime time slot," head coach Rylee Orr says. 

It's one of the many challenges a club sports team faces.

"We get about a tenth of our budget from the University," Orr says. "The rest is all on our players. They all pay $2500 at the start of the year to play. That helps cover travel costs, practice times, buses for the road trips."

It hasn't stopped Ducks hockey. They've ranked as high as 5th in the West of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. They have a good shot to win the Pac-8 conference title.

"The boys are willing to sacrifice for each other," team captain Warren Berg says.  "We're really happy to be here. It's really showing up on the ice."

It's been a quick turnaround for a fairly new coaching staff that had just 13 players show up to tryouts last year. That being said, the team has bigger goals then just the ones on the ice. 

That's to play at the NCAA Division I level.

"Right now they play in ACHA Division II. I think the team would go ACHA Division I, in the next few years, if the teams they currently play make the jump as well," University of Oregon Club Sports Director Ben Prahl says. "Then if ever there was a desire, a need and a want to go NCAA Division I that would be pretty cool."

Arizona State went from ACHA to NCAA Division I in the 2015-16 season. The Ducks see themselves doing the same. 

"That's going to make it easier to recruit," Orr says. "When you recruit better players, you're going to start competing for those championships and that's just going to open the eyes of the hockey community."

The next step in becoming a Division I program is win a conference championship. The Ducks have that chance when they compete in the Pac-8 Conference Tournament on Friday at South Lake Tahoe, Calif. 

"I think another banner on the wall will be a good edition to our program, and just a way of bringing attention to ourselves," Berg says. "Fans want to see a winning hockey team. We want to win."

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