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WVU club hockey team opens season Saturday in South Charleston

CHARLESTON -- The West Virginia University club hockey team will make its fifth visit to the South Charleston Memorial Ice Rink when the Mountaineers take on Ohio University on Saturday.

WVU opens its season Friday at Ohio's Bird Arena in what will be head coach Zack Eckman's first game in charge of the Mountaineers.

Butch Buckley, assistant director of the South Charleston Memorial Ice Rink, said there were still tickets available, but if the past is any indication Mountaineer fans and hockey fans, alike, could be out of luck if they wait to get a ticket.

"We've sold out every time they've been here," Buckley said. "It doesn't take long for the tickets to go away. People like the Mountaineers - they don't care if it's boom ball or tiddlywinks, as long as WVU is playing."

Buckley said tickets can be reserved by calling the rink and placing an order that can be picked up at the will-call office the day of the game if you can not make it to the rink in person before then.

"I hope people get their tickets soon because I hate to turn people away," he said.

West Virginia enters this season as the defending College Hockey Mid-America regular season and playoff champion and is ranked No. 18 by the American College Hockey Association.

Ohio has already played four games, all wins, and is the No. 2 team in the ACHA poll.

Buckley said between the quality of the teams on the ice, the allure of a WVU team playing in town and the general hockey fans, the rink has several things going in its favor for this game.

"We have people that played hockey here for years that always come back. We've had kids come in at five-years-old and play until they're 18. They come back," he said. "It's so up close and personal. You sit right on top of the ice and there are a lot of folks devoted to hockey. It's like a reunion for a lot of the hockey players."

The game is scheduled for 2 p.m., which Buckley said was by design for Mountaineer fans.

"Everyone still has time to go to the game and come home to watch WVU [football] against Texas," he said. "That's why we did it."

Reach Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@wvgazette.com.


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