With the fever pitch of college football in Louisiana reaching its magnitude, one club team on campus is looking to bring the attention back to the ice. After a brief absence since 2008, the LSU Ice Hockey Club is trying to make a comeback, and a name for itself on LSU's campus.
"They're used to football, they're used to the hits, the excitement, and it really translates over to hockey as well," senior goalie Devin Drouant said.
The team has been tasked with overcoming the challenges that come from playing a sport not ingrained, or even recognized, in southern culture. Part of overcoming that challenge is selling the spectacle itself.
"I think hockey is the most fun game to watch live more than anything else," says first-year head coach Jonathan Kehrer.
Kehrer, a former LSU hockey player before the teams' folding in 2008, looks to other programs in the SEC Hockey League as templates for building a successful product down South.
"I know that Alabama, Georgia, and even Arkansas, have actually had a whole lot of success," said Kehrer. "Even Georgia now has an on-campus rink. What we're going to try to do is mimic a lot of the ways they were able to grow their programs."
The programs, which in its current state, is severely underfunded by the university due to its size. However, the team claims it can be an attraction to the ever-growing number of out-of-state students attending LSU from hockey rich states like Illinois and Minnesota.
"You've got kids coming to LSU nowadays from Massachusetts, Chicago, Minnesota," says Drouant. "When they come down here and see that we have a team, that's an added attraction to come to LSU."
With no usable rink in Baton Rouge until late October, the team is forced to drive an hour away to Lafayette for late night practices. But even with the challenges and sacrifices, the team's main focus is on playing the sport they love at LSU.
"Instead of studying for my French test tomorrow I'm in Lafayette at 11 o'clock at night practicing," said Drouant. "But I love hockey. I'd rather be playing hockey than studying French."