This Friday, Oct. 12, marks the traditional start to the men’s college hockey season with the annual Ice Breaker Tournament.
Mercyhurst has the privilege of hosting the tournament alongside the Erie Sports Commission at the Erie Insurance Arena in downtown Erie. Presented by College Hockey Inc. in association with the Hockey Commissioners’ Association since 1997 and maintaining the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) as its title sponsor this year.
This year’s tournament is also the first time an Atlantic Hockey school has been selected to host the tournament. It also marks the Lakers’ first appearance in the tournament since 2013.
All four teams involved this year were either ranked or received votes in the initial U.S. College Hockey rankings released Sept. 24, with second ranked University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Big Ten) headlining a field including No. 5 Providence College Friars (Hockey East) and Miami-Ohio (National Collegiate Hockey Conference, NCHO). “Hosting this prestigious tournament is an honor and a privilege and being the first school in our conference really just adds to that honor,” Lakers head coach Rick Gotkin said. “There is a lot more work and responsibilities attached to hosting this tournament then there is in just playing in this tournament. The Mercyhurst University administration along with the Erie Sports Commission have done an unbelievably terrific job in making sure that this tournament is a first-class event and all the student athletes will have a great experience while they are our guests here in Erie for the weekend.”
Mercyhurst Student Government, in partnership with the Division of Student Life, has purchased 700 tickets for students to go and show some school spirit at the games. Students can pick up their tickets throughout the week at various locations on campus. “MSG decided to buy these tickets as the Ice breaker Tournament is such a unique opportunity for Mercyhurst students that we wanted to make sure as many students as possible had the opportunity to experience it,” MSG president Vincent Marrazzo said. Buses will be running from Mercyhurst to the Erie Insurance Arena throughout the weekend to provide students free transportation to the games. MSG will also be giving away free hats to the first 100 students on the bus on Friday and Saturday.
The tournament begins at 4 p.m. on Friday with Miami and Providence, followed by the Lakers and Notre Dame at 7:30. The Lakers are prepared to face some of the top teams in their respective conferences, starting with Notre Dame.
“We are going into Friday’s game expecting to come out with a win,” senior Laker forward Josh Lammon said. “Notre Dame should be a good test for our team, but we feel that we can compete with anyone in the country and look forward to the opportunity Friday night in front of our own fans.” The two losing teams will play for third Saturday at 4, followed by the championship at 7.
The Lakers are excited to be hosting and having the home ice advantage.
“We have a lot of very good inexperienced players, and a lot of experienced good players that will have a great opportunity to keep getting better and come together as a team this weekend. In a nut shell we need to find a way to get better every day as a team and this will be another part of that process.” Gotkin said.