The Culmination of MT Hockey
By: Tyler Hurst
Photo Credits: TJ Myers with tqm.photography
The MTSU Ice Hockey Club will take on the Vanderbilt Ice Hockey Club this Sunday, February 27 in Nashville. These two teams are no strangers to one another, but there’s something a little more special about Sunday’s matchup. The reason? This game will be played under the bright lights of Nissan Stadium.
The Blue Raiders are in the midst of their most successful season since the club’s inception in 2015. They recently clinched their first playoff appearance in club history, and the team wanted to end the regular season on a high note. Little did they know, they’d be ending the regular season at the home of the Tennessee Titans.
When asked about how it all came together, Club President, Jackson Taylor, said, “I have been in contact with Vanderbilt Hockey’s President, Julian Yang, since November. We were thinking at first it would be a longshot to get this game to be a reality. Thankfully, we knew people who had close ties with the Nashville Predators, so that helped our process of getting it scheduled.”
Taylor and many of the other upperclassmen on the team have witnessed significant changes and growth since they first joined the team as freshmen. They’ve witnessed conference realignment, increases in competition, and now their first playoff appearance. This game feels like a special culmination for all the hard work they’ve put in.
“This game’s an amazing experience and something I’ll never forget,” said Jake Fink, one of two seniors on the team. “This is the type of stuff you’ll tell your kids about when you grow up. I’m so thankful for being a part of the team and the opportunity to play in such a unique location. It makes me so happy to see how the team has grown over my four years and to have such a bright future.”
Because of MT Hockey’s status as a club, they aren’t always seen as equals to some of the other athletic teams on campus. Many students on campus will admit they didn’t even know the school had a team. The team hopes this game will open more eyes around the community of not just MT hockey, but other club sports that don’t get the same recognition and inspire them to try and put events like this together too.
“I guess it’ll be a thing like, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you think will deny you because of who you play for,” said Taylor. “For us and Vanderbilt as Division II club teams, it’s definitely something that will get the attention of ones who will hate on these kinds of programs and those who will say we don’t deserve moments like these and that the players who get full-time scholarships deserve it more. We are all college athletes. We all deserve recognition for what we do. Just because we fund our own equipment doesn’t make us different from the NCAA athletes.”
The club has come a long way, but they know there is still work to be done. The playoffs are looming, but until then they’re going to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience under the bright lights and let the world know, MT Hockey has arrived.