Photo Credits: UC DAVIS ICE HOCKEY / COURTESY
Senior captain Kazunori Machida gives insight into team, program
Though many students may not know, UC Davis has a club ice hockey team. The team is composed of both male and female students from all years and is supplemented by a practice team for beginning players. Even for those who can barely skate, this group of student athletes will eagerly welcome anyone who wants to try a new sport.
“It’s great we have a practice team so that beginners or people who have never played before can still learn.” said senior captain Kazunori Machida, also known as “Kaz.”. “[We] play full contact so it’d be unsafe for a new player to be out there.”
As of now, the competitive team consists of 13 players, complemented by another six on the practice squad. The team practices a short drive away at the Vacaville Ice Sports rink twice a week and play games there on weekend nights starting in Fall Quarter.
According to Machida, the practice regimen is intense but not unbearable.
“We love playing and we get to play a game or two every weekend, so it’s not a big deal.”
Machida described one disadvantage that the Davis team is, unfortunately but inevitably, plagued by every year: the quarter system. Because this is a club sport, the team doesn’t start practicing until school starts in late September, while most other teams on the semester system are practicing as early as mid-August.
“We had a pretty rough start to the year, but with the four-win streak, things have kind of turned around,” Machida said. “We’re at a disadvantage to start the year, but once we get going we’re fine.”
The team started off on Oct. 12 against Santa Rosa Junior College, which began its school year a month earlier, and unsurprisingly lost 17-3. Fast forward three months and the UC Davis team is now firing on all cylinders, riding a five game win streak into February, with the team’s most recent victory coming against Stanford on Saturday night.
Machida reflected on the team’s identity this year, specifically.
“[The players] are all in different grades which probably helps our team come together,” Machida said. “The Stanford team only has 10 players and we play full 20 minute periods so we should win, honestly pretty easily.”
Win easily they did indeed. Machida racked up two goals for UC Davis on the way to a decisive 6-1 victory. As the mid-February playoffs loom, this Aggie squad is getting hot at exactly the right time.
The team’s next home game is scheduled for Feb. 9 against UC San Diego. After that, the team will hit the road for two highly anticipated rematches against UC Santa Cruz and Santa Clara University, as both matches went into overtime in their first meeting. The team is yearning to continue its win streak and dominate all the way through playoffs.
Written by: AJ Seymour –– firstname.lastname@example.org