A grand day for UAH hockey
Jeff Carr, Sports Writer
January 31, 2013
Filed under Sports
For the last couple of years, fans of UAHuntsville hockey have rallied behind the words “Save UAH Hockey.” Last Thursday marked the day to celebrate the accomplishment of that goal.
UAH President Dr. Robert Altenkirch, Athletic Director Dr. E. J. Brophy and head hockey coach Kurt Kleinendorst held a press conference Thursday officially announcing the hockey team’s acceptance into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Dr. Brophy opened the presser with a statement of thanks and talked about the magnitude of this occasion.
“This is a grand day for UAH, a grand day for the city of Huntsville and a grand day for Charger Hockey,” Brophy said in his statement. “One week ago today, the Charger Hockey program was accepted unanimously into the WCHA for the fall of the 2013 season.”
The most instrumental person in the move, according to Brophy, was President Altenkirch.
“I want you all to understand something,” he said addressing the media, “there’s no way this job gets done without the man sitting on my right, Altenkirch. He came to town, he put the train on the track, he was the lead dog and he got the job done. I am so proud to work for him every day.”
Kleinendorst then made his statement. He talked about how much he loves hockey and that it does not feel like a job to him.
“The one thing (Brophy) said a couple of times that stood out to me was ‘work,’” Kleinendorst said. “The one thing I feel so good about is I’ve been doing this for 23 years and I’ve never gone to work, I go to the rink.”
Joining the WCHA has already brought about changes in recruiting for Kleinendorst. He said that it was hard to sell a recruit a hockey team that does not have a “home,” but now the team does.
“My job has gotten so much easier in the last week because we have a home in the WCHA. I’ve been getting calls from student athletes who want to play for UAH, and that’s a pretty neat thing.”
After thanking the President and Dr. Brophy, Kleinendorst delivered the line that summed up the importance of the move to the WCHA.
“I’m looking forward to carrying on an old tradition and we’re going to make it new in the WCHA.”
With their statements finished, the panel allowed questions from the audience. Brophy said that the other teams in the WCHA were quite flexible with their scheduling and that they would even give up a home weekend to allow UAH to enter the conference. UAH could be looking at 18 home hockey games next year.
When asked about the future of the program, now that is has a conference, Dr. Altenkirch quoted Yogi Berra by saying, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” He then elaborated on the focus toward recruiting and expanding the area in which we recruit from.
Brophy spoke to the anticipation of reuniting an old rivalry with Bemidji State saying that “It’s as fierce as Alabama/Auburn.” Already fans of Bemidji are talking trash about UAH on Twitter. Look for the return of Bemidji State next year, it is sure to be one of the biggest games of the season.
Finally, Brophy challenged the fans that have supported UAH Hockey to continue their support.
“Give until it hurts,” he said. ”Season tickets, the Blue Line Club, the Frozen 300, it all matters. Every dime goes to the team. We need fannies in the seats and our great fans to keep up their support of this great team.”
Let’s get 5000 fans in the Von Braun Center on opening night next season. Be sure to keep an eye out for the release of the schedule as the Chargers begin their journey of the WCHA next fall.