Roller Hockey Makes its Debut
Henry Ford College is diversifying its athletic programs. The school already has seven varsity sports, with girls basketball set to return in the 2018 season; however, there is one new team that is rolling into the spotlight this season. The Roller Hockey Club team, headed by coach Rick Fenwick, at eight points, is tied for second place with Ohio State. Points are similar to regular hockey where you get two points for a win and one point for an overtime tie or OT loss. The team is a small fish in a big pond when it comes to the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey Conference with teams like Miami of Ohio, Ohio State, Michigan, and Akron, among others. The squad has performed well with a record of 8-3.
Goalie Dominic Stankiewicz said, “Don’t underestimate roller hockey,” when it comes to the skill aspect of the players. Fenwick said the entertainment is a great part of the game and some of the coach’s friends keep up with how the roller hockey team is doing.
Roller hockey uses fewer players than the hockey played in the NHL. According to Fenwick, the game is played four on four instead of five on five. There are still three periods, but each frame is 12 minutes instead of the customary 20. If necessary, a five-minute overtime is played to determine a winner or the game ends in a tie.
The Hawks Roller Hockey team started to skate together in April, practicing out of the now-closed Canfield Arena. They then moved to the Taylor sportsplex, and now work out in Livonia. The team had a head start with their practices, as other schools were recovering from playing in the national tournament, which is part of what has helped the team early on.
The season runs October to April. There are two tournaments: a conference tournament held in March and the national tournament in April.
The top six teams in the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey Conference move on to the conference tournament, and HFC is on pace to advance. They have already beaten Ohio State and Michigan and lost a crossover game to Michigan State. All these teams field larger rosters and have been around longer than the HFC team.
Being a newer team, HFC is low on players. The roster comprises just seven players right now, with one on the way, according to Fenwick. Other teams have at least 12 players. New players can be added to the roster in January and will be eligible to play the remainder of the season, including the playoffs.
The Hawks Roller Hockey team’s next home game is Feb. 10 and 11 at the Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Shelby Township. Both games are at 9 am. Opponents are still to be determined.
One thing is certain, though: no matter how this season goes, the team is laying the groundwork for a strong future for Roller Hockey at HFC.