UCLA Ice Hockey: An interview with a club team on the rise

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 22: Detail view of a skate blade lying on the ice during a game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 22, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 22: Detail view of a skate blade lying on the ice during a game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 22, 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

Go Joe Bruin takes a look at the UCLA Ice Hockey team, one of the longest running club sports at UCLA. We go behind the scenes of this up-and-coming club as we interview president and captain Peter Katz.

You might not have known it, but the UCLA Ice Hockey team has been in existence for a long time. Though they only have club team status, it does not take away from the fact that these student-atheltes are giving their blood, sweat and tears (and time and money) to the fastest game on ice.

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Go Joe Bruin had the chance to interview next season’s president and captain, Peter Katz, who brings us up to speed on all the goings on with the Bruins and what we can expect in the future.

Go Joe Bruin: For those that don’t know, tell us a little bit about UCLA Ice Hockey?

UCLA Ice Hockey: UCLA Ice Hockey is actually one of the oldest clubs on campus, having been founded in 1926. Almost entirely player funded, the team competes with other schools in the PAC-8 Conference every year. It is essentially like the PAC-12, but a couple of the schools don’t have teams.

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GJB: Tell us a little bit about the roster. How many guys do you have and what is the team’s philosophy?

UIH: The team usually has about 20 players on its roster. We graduated a lot of the team this year so we only have about 10 of those players coming back, however we were able to get another 8 freshman coming in next year so it will be a young team, but we expect a lot of our freshman to come in and be able to make an impact with the team right away. The team loves to play fast so having a deeper bench is a big key for us. We’re not the biggest team by any means but our defense is great at moving the puck to stretch the ice and letting our forwards use their speed to wear out the other team.

GJB: In your opinion, who are the offensive and defensive players we should keep an eye on this coming season?

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UIH: Offensively, one guy to watch for to have a big year next season is senior forward Michael Rosholt. Michael has been a leader on the offense since his freshman season. He’s one of the most talented skaters in the league with an ability to torch a defenseman one-on-one and break a game open with his speed at any time. If it weren’t for a couple of injuries, we really could be talking about him at the Division 1 level.

Defensively, it all starts with Junior transfer Kyle Lohmann. Kyle joined the team last year after transferring from community college and it was immediately clear he was going to be leading the blue line. As a big defenseman, he loves playing physical in our own end and then skating the puck up and starting the offense himself. He’s definitely a fun player to watch and we’re excited to have him back for his senior year this fall.

And in net we have Junior goalie Matthew Bohdan returning to the crease next season. He’s extremely quick in net and adds a great glove hand as well. As solid as they get, he gives us a great chance to win every time he’s out on the ice.

GJB:  What kind of competition have you have faced in recent seasons and who will you take on this year?

UIH: The PAC-8 has grown a lot since I got here 3 years ago. We actually won the conference 2 years ago on a overtime game winner against the University of Washington from then graduate student Brandon Hsiao. After an injury filled season for us, we’re looking to get back on top of the conference this season.

Our President and Captain last year, Nick Katzaroff, was injured on a hit from behind up in Spokane while playing Washington State. He was forced to retire from hockey so that was a big loss for us. It definitely got the season off track a little bit but I’ll be taking on the role of President and Captain for the team next season so we’re looking to regroup this summer and reclaim our title.

GJB: UCLA Ice Hockey has played at the LA Kings Valley Ice Center in Panorama City, as well as the Pickwick Center in Burbank. Where can we see you play next season?

UIH: A couple years ago, we transitioned from playing at Valley Ice Center over to Pickwick Ice in Burbank. The rink staff have been great in supporting us and advertising our games around the rink so we’re excited to be back there again in the fall.

GJB: UCLA and USC have often played games at Staples Center after LA Kings games. First off, what is it like to be out on that ice? Secondly, can we expect more of that in 2018-19?

UIH: Every year UCLA and USC play a 5-game series for the Crosstown Cup. We had won 2 years ago but USC reclaimed it this past season. The LA Kings put on a tournament for all the Southern California club hockey teams so for the past few years, the first game is played at Staples Center after a Kings’ game. It’s an awesome experience to be out on that ice right after watching Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick play on it just a few minutes earlier.

Two years ago, we beat USC in overtime and went on to win the entire tournament, beating CSUN back at the Staples Center a few weeks later. The annual game has actually been featured on a few different news outlets like Fox News and Barstool Sports so we’ll definitely ramp up some publicity for it once we get it all scheduled.

GJB: Out of all the teams in the Pac-12, Arizona State was the first to go from a university club program to an NCAA Division I team. Is there any hope to see UCLA do that?

UIH: ASU has gone Division 1 and I think we’re going to see more teams making the jump. The UCLA team was actually founded at a Division 1 level back in 1926. UCLA, USC, UC Berekely, and LMU all had Division 1 programs and were very competitive on the national scale. In 1938, USC actually beat the legendary John Marriuci’s Minnesota Golden Gophers out in LA, 5-2 and 4-3.

Unfortunately, the programs were all shut down with World War II and haven’t been able to reclaim their spots at the Division 1 level since. I think talent hasn’t been the obstacle, it’s really just a matter of funding. It would take a lot to get the program started again but I think it would be awesome to see UCLA Hockey playing inside Pauley Pavilion.

There’s a great article on the history if you’re interested, (click HERE).

GJB: For those current students interested, when and where do you hold tryouts?

UIH: For students interested, we will be holding open tryouts September 26th, 29th, and October 3rd at Pickwick Ice in Burbank.

GJB: You guys have some really cool swag. At games you often sell jerseys and t-shirts. If fans cannot make it to games, is it possible to purchase online?

UIH: We have had some licensing issues with Under Armour so we’re currently unable to sell our shirts and jackets but we have our yellow jerseys available for sale through our Facebook page. Just messaged the page to order.

The school’s switch to Under Armour has actually been a major issue for us. We are having to transition our entire uniforms over from Adidas to Under Armour which has become a major expense for a student-run team. We have held some fundraisers in the past to try to help alleviate these costs but for an entirely student funded team the transition has definitely put a strain on the operations.

GJB: UCLA Ice Hockey has a small but growing social media presence, where can soon-to-be fans find you?

UIH: Fans can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’re working on some live stream options for next season as well so I’ll be sure to get that info out on our social media pages once we get that going.

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So if who weren’t a UCLA Ice Hockey fan before, we here at Go Joe Bruin hope you are now. Thank you to Peter Katz for giving us information on the team and we all hope to see you support the Ice Bruins this fall and winter. Go Bruins!