The UAB Men's Hockey Club poses for a team picture (Photo from UAB Men's Hockey Club).The UAB Men's Hockey Club poses for a team picture (Photo from UAB Men's Hockey Club).Tamara Imam- Copy Editor

The UAB Ice Hockey Club defeated Mississippi State in its first ever exhibition game at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena on Saturday, April 2. Admission was free for all attendees.

UAB (1-0) came out on top of Mississippi State (2-12 overall, 0-6 in SECHC) in an 11-10 win over the Ice Dawgs. Ryan Kalson, one of the founding members of the club, pulled a hat trick, scoring three goals over the course of the game.

Kalson, assisted by his teammate Steven Stevens, scored the first goal in UAB ice hockey history. He also scored the game-winning goal, again assisted by Stevens.

As of now, the UAB hockey club is not affiliated with the American Collegiate Hockey Association, the governing body of club and varsity college ice hockey akin to the NCAA. However, the club plans to eventually become a part of the ACHA.

“Me, Dave Monaco, and a couple others started the club a little over a year ago,” Kalson said. “The game against Mississippi State was to really kick off our program and gain interest so that come next season we should have a full schedule and be registered with ACHA.”

Prior to the inaugural game, the hockey club launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the cost of funds for “optimal game time, another practice, and hockey socks” and to help “with the start of a 2016-2017 season by helping to reduce dues for all potential players,” according to the club’s GoFundMe site.

The hockey club also hosted a percentage night at Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries. Fifteen percent of the sales went towards uniforms, ice time and hiring officials for the game.

Kalson said that donations through the GoFundMe allowed the club to purchase more practice time on the ice and hockey socks for all the members ahead of the first game.

For Kalson and other club members who have played hockey throughout their lives, the exhibition game was an opportunity to showcase their talent at the college level in front of a large crowd of Blazer fans.  

“It was amazing! Especially for the people like me that have played hockey their entire lives then had to stop because we came to college,” Kalson said. “A lot of our players haven't played competitively in 3-4 years, so for our first time back to have the bleachers filled with fans was amazing.  Also, how loud and into the game they were was awesome especially after we won.”

With a successful first game under its belt, the club is looking to solidify its plans for the upcoming season.

“In the coming weeks we will be having team meetings to start scheduling games and getting everything set up for next season,” Kalson said.

Elliot Brindley, a UAB alumnus and #FreeUAB activist, attended the game on Saturday night. He hopes that the hockey club will eventually evolve into a Division I program at UAB.

“As a UAB alum, I could not be more proud of the club hockey team that UAB has assembled. I went to the game Saturday night with low expectations. I did not expect that UAB would win, nor did I expect a very big crowd. But, to my surprise, the crowd was very large (well over 1,000 people) and very vocal, even rowdy at times,” Brindley said. “Hopefully they will eventually build UAB hockey into a division I program, but I know it will likely be a long process to get to division I hockey. In the meantime, it will be fun watching the UAB hockey club grow in the coming years. Go Blazers.”

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