Tech’s most popular club sport, based on Instagram following, has officially begun their 2023-24 campaign. Founded in 1973, the club hockey team is celebrating their 50th season, making them the longest continuously organized hockey program in the southeast. The Jackets compete in the College Hockey South Conference (CHS) within the Division 2 tier of the Amateur Athletic Union and will take on notable teams from around the southeast.
The team is under new leadership this year as fourth year forward Zachary Jacobson will be the captain with fourth year forward Declan Clougherty, fourth year defender Alexander Dubé and third year Keegan Goodell serving as assistant captains. In an interview with the Technique, Clougherty, who also serves as the club’s president, shared some optimism for the season, stating “[the team’s] biggest strength this year is depth. We have three competitive forward lines and three goalies that we feel great about performing at the top of our expectations.” Clougherty also said “We have a good defensive core, even though they’re inexperienced. I really like the growth I’ve seen out of them.” Looking to spark some energy, Clougherty highlighted two new players to the team, exclaiming that “[first year forward] Cullen Dorcas had a sensational game against Ole Miss while [graduate goalie] Brendan Germano is stepping into his role really well.” The team is riding a two year streak of qualifying for the national tournament and hope to boost the count to three this season.
Perhaps the team’s biggest announcement and most anticipated part of the season comes with the arrival of an easier way for students to get to the team’s home games. The Jackets’ home games take place at the Atlanta Ice Forum in Duluth, Georgia, which is 25 miles away from campus, or what is typically around a 30 minute drive. Regardless, the Jackets have long had a noisy, high energy student section cheering them on for every game and want to keep the energy up going into this season. To do this, club hockey announced on July 31 that they would be offering bus tickets for every home game in order to transport as many students as possible to the rink. The bus tickets are round trip, include a ticket into the game with a valid Buzzcard, come at $15 per game and can be found on the club hockey Instagram account: @gthockey.
Tech’s official return to the ice came on Sept. 15 at the MidSouth Ice House in Olive Branch, Mississippi, for a pair of matchups against the Ole Miss Hockey Club. The team lost their initial match up 5-1; however, Tech bounced back the following game on Sept. 17. The Jackets went faceoff for faceoff and found the goal five times throughout the match, emerging victorious 5-3. Since that, Tech has played three matches. The home opener came on Sept. 22 in a rivalry matchup against the Georgia Club Hockey team where the Jackets were unable to prevail in a tightly contested game. Tech took to the road on Sept. 29 for two matchups with Vanderbilt; however, the Jackets were unable to find a rhythm offensively and fell in both games. Clougherty expressed his thoughts on the season so far, saying “It’s been an up and
down season and we’re not currently where we want to be. Part of that is from our roster turnover because we turned over 50% of last year’s rosters, so team chemistry is still coming along.”
However, the Jackets return for a long home stretch over the month of October which may give the team just the momentum they need. A rowdy home crowd mixed with a familiar rink could give Tech just the edge to mount a solid winning streak. The team will match up with Clemson first on Oct. 6 where Clougherty says, “[he is] looking to see a consolidated effort throughout all three periods where people don’t let off the gas against Clemson. If everyone gives a full effort, we’re gonna come away with a win.” The team will then host Auburn for two games on Oct. 13 and 14. After a two week break, the Jackets will
take on Tennessee on Oct. 27 and 28. Following the October home series, the team has another really exciting opportunity. In a partnership with the Atlanta Gladiators, a local minor league hockey team, the Jackets will face off against Georgia in an exciting pregame competition at Gas South Arena before the Gladiators take to the ice against the South Carolina Stingrays on Nov. 5.
Club hockey has quite the season lined up with the combination of the new bus deal for students, a Gladiators pregame match and an enticing home lineup against the southeast’s best programs. The Jackets hold hopes high for another season that leads to a national tournament appearance and look to mount an amazing run in their historic 50th year. Tech will take to the ice next against the Clemson Tigers on Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m.