Just when you thought hockey wasn't big enough around here, you thaw the ice and find there is another group of Mighty Ducks underneath. The College Hockey League or CHL as the players call it, runs for 26 weeks out of the year, 16 weeks during the first semester and 10 weeks during the second semester.
“We have some good players, we have some bad players, we have some newbies, we have some people who have been playing for 16 years,” said Patrick Holtan, a player in the co-ed CHL circuit for eight semesters. “Anyone can play, some professors even play.”
There are currently four teams playing in the league that play Wednesdays and Sundays with two games each night. Each semester there is a one-night playoff--the first place team plays fourth place, and second place plays third place. The winners play each other following the first round of games.
The league is co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point intramurals, and the players in the league fund the rest. It costs roughly $100 per semester to play in the CHL and goalies play for free. But as Holtan emphasized, the fans would not be charged to support their CHL players.
“There used to be a lot of people who came and watched,” said Holtan. “They used to have chuck-a-puck during intermission and other fan interactions.”
The diminished fan support led to the demise of intermission festivities for the fans but Holtan said he wouldn't mind more fans cheering them on.
The CHL makes its home at K.B. Willett Arena. The games take place at 8:30 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 9:00 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. on Sundays. The players were also throwing around the idea of having an ‘outdoor classic’ game during the season, weather permitting.
“It's a good bunch of guys and girls, everyone gets along,” said Holtan. “It's competitive but it is also a good time. We play at an intensity that makes it fun.” The league, however, is no check no slapshot so even though the league is intense it is also safe.
The first night of the CHL there is a scrimmage where everyone plays and a couple of the players then make the teams that will last the entire year. For the last few years, Holtan and Eric Borre, who refer to themselves as 'player-commissioners' have decided the teams.
The league starts a couple weeks after school starts and the first semester runs until December. The second semester starts back up the first week after break. Yesterday marked the end of the 2011-2012 season.
“It sucks that the season has come to a close and has been some of the best times of my college career,” said Holtan, who wrapped up his final season as a player in the CHL.
To show your support, like the UWSP College Hockey League on Facebook.