Most people know that the Bay Area is home to the current Western Conference Champion NHL team, the San Jose Sharks. Some can tell you about the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, and various youth hockey teams playing everywhere from Santa Rosa to Santa Clara. I’d be willing to bet, however, that many fans don’t know that they can watch live college hockey here. While local universities aren’t in the NCAA varsity system, many schools embrace the DIY spirit with club ice hockey teams (mainly funded by the players themselves, community donations, and merchandise sales). If you attended college here, it’s likely that your alma mater is fielding a team right now. This post will be the first in a series about the local college club ice hockey teams. Since the Big Game takes place next Saturday, I’ll begin with Stanford, Cal, and their other major match of the week.
My first hockey game happened to be a Stanford-Berkeley tilt during my sophomore year. Since Stanford doesn’t have an ice rink on campus (for reasons that escape me), Josh, Ginny, and I had to head to Redwood City Ice Oasis to watch. We got lost, and missed the first two periods. Eventually, I got to watch my dormmate Sami Jo Small backstop the Cardinal to victory. (The campus had no women’s hockey team, and at the time Small attracted a lot of press for being a female goalie on a men’s team. Her stellar play netted her the MVP Award for the Pac-8 Conference that year. Small went on to become a three-time Olympian with Team Canada, an IIHF gold medalist, and a 2014 Clarkson Cup champion.) I was so enthusiastic about the live hockey experience that I called home when I arrived back at the dorm late that night, waking my parents up in the process.
Stanford and Cal have continued their club ice hockey rivalry, which culminates in the annual Big Freeze. During Big Game Week, Cardinal and Golden Bear fans can distract themselves from pursuit of the Axe by following the puck instead. This year’s edition starts at 9 p.m. this Thursday, November 17, at Sharks Ice on 519 18th Street, Oakland. Admission is free, and Cal fans can participate in the raffle for two team jerseys. (Stanford’s hockey website hasn’t been updated in a while, but I’m sure there’s something planned for devotees of the Cardinal.) Visit this page for more information about the game.