YU Roller Hockey Team Finds Another Gear in Division 2
Every promotion in life brings with it greater challenges. Your responsibilities multiply and you need to maintain a heightened focus in order to succeed at your new task. After all, the easy part is getting a promotion. The hard part is proving you deserve it.
For Yeshiva University’s roller hockey team, an exciting move from Division 4 to Division 2 of the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) meant tougher opponents, a taxing schedule, and more grueling practices. In the previous season, their inaugural season in the league, Yeshiva cruised to the Regional Championship with a stunning regular season record of 11-0-1 while outscoring opponents by 70 goals. The team was the brainchild of Amir Gavarin, Avi Margulies, Ari Drazin, and Jesse Gordon who were seeking a way to playing hockey competitively while representing the school. After much coordinating with the school and league, the aforementioned students found a way to make playing a full season feasible while adhering to a shomer shabbos schedule. The inaugural campaign ultimately culminated in a 5-1 championship victory over Millersville University, and the team quickly shifted their gaze toward the following season.
Seeking a greater challenge, the team was prepared for the jump. As captain Amir Gavarin put it, “We felt that we could compete and represent the school at a higher level so, with the approval of the league, we moved up two divisions.” And with most members of the championship team returning for another semester, the team was poised to make some serious noise in their new grouping.
While some felt that the decision to move on up was an impulsive one, the team was ready to prove the doubters wrong. After all, this team has grown accustomed to fighting through adversity. From forming the team to funding the whole operation on their own, seemingly every aspect of this team has come with its challenges that the devoted players had to deal with. While the lack of funding from YU is a substantial hurdle, the team also has to schedule all of its games for Sunday mornings. This leads to some scenarios where the team must play four demanding games between the hours of 7am and 2pm. Wherever the squad looks, it always seems as if there is yet another obstacle in their way. But once they step on the court, the only battle that matters is the one with their opponents in front of them.
At the halfway point this season, Yeshiva sits atop the Division 2 standings with a sterling record of 9-1. Along the way they’ve beaten several stalwarts like Endicott College, Villanova University, and Penn State University. Most recently, Yeshiva got their revenge against Northeastern University in a thrilling game that culminated in a shootout victory for the Maccabees. Northeastern was the lone team to hand Yeshiva a defeat to that point.
“Coming out of that first half of the season I’d say that we’re super confident,” said defenseman Benjy Shulman. “We know that we have the talent to beat any team in the league and we’re hoping to carry this momentum into the second half.”
With the impressive start, it’s no wonder that students are starting to notice this team on campus. While last year’s championship didn’t garner so much attention by the students, word is finally beginning to spread about this successful YU team. The team’s social media presence has been on point this season as well, consistently doling out quality content, be it game updates, photos and videos, or topical jokes and shenanigans. The follower count on their Instagram (@YURollerHockey), Twitter (@YURollerHockey), and Facebook (Yeshiva University Roller Hockey) is well over a hundred each, indicative of the fandom that this team has earned and is finally receiving.
“I vaguely knew about this team last year, but once I heard about how they started this season, I was hooked,” said YU student David Kor. “It’s pretty cool having a team that’s a powerhouse in their respective sport, and following their games is always so fun and exciting.”
As the players’ fellow classmates start to notice the dominance on the court, so too has the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA). The second half of the season is just around the corner, and so is the official reveal of the national rankings of the NCRHA. With Yeshiva looking sharp through their first ten games, it seems as if these Maccabees are destined to win a bid for the national tournament, which will be taking place in the picturesque Fort Myers, Florida this year. But the team knows they can’t get too ahead of themselves and that they still have a long road ahead of them.
“We know that winning Nationals is the ultimate goal this season, but we can’t take our eyes off what’s right in front of us,” says rookie sensation Avi Edell. “We have to make sure to play each game with intensity and we have to make sure to vaporize each team we face with hard work. And hopefully by the end of the season we’ll leave all of them in our smoke.”
Regardless of how this season ends, it’s evident that the players on this magical team are just happy to have the chance to play hockey on a high level with the added bonus of being able to represent the blue and white of Yeshiva University. And while the obstacles and challenges of participating in the league are many, it’ll hopefully keep fueling these combatants to bring home another championship for YU.