New adviser brings life to hockey program

The+Winona+State+Club+Hockey+team+gathers+for+a+group+photo+after+a+practice+in+La+Crescent%2C+Minnesota+on+Monday%2C+Oct.+28.+The+team+is+currently+3-4+in+its+first+year+back+in+full+conference+play+since+2016.
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New adviser brings life to hockey program

The Winona State Club Hockey team gathers for a group photo after a practice in La Crescent, Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 28. The team is currently 3-4 in its first year back in full conference play since 2016.

The Winona State Club Hockey team gathers for a group photo after a practice in La Crescent, Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 28. The team is currently 3-4 in its first year back in full conference play since 2016.

Contributed by Winona State Club Hockey

The Winona State Club Hockey team gathers for a group photo after a practice in La Crescent, Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 28. The team is currently 3-4 in its first year back in full conference play since 2016.

Contributed by Winona State Club Hockey

Contributed by Winona State Club Hockey

The Winona State Club Hockey team gathers for a group photo after a practice in La Crescent, Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 28. The team is currently 3-4 in its first year back in full conference play since 2016.

Mitchell Breuer, Sports Editor

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The puck has dropped for hockey season, and the Winona State University hockey club has already seen success.

The team picked up a win against Minnesota State University, Mankato’s hockey club as the first win in conference play this season.

However, it has been a long road to where the club is at now.

Following the 2016 season, the team was suspended from campus, leaving existing members to try and rebuild the program from the ground up.

“I know they had to jump through a lot of hoops,” Zach Boudreau, the club’s adviser, said. “They had to do a lot of community service hours. They had to reintegrate themselves into the process of obtaining ice time, recruiting players, all those little things that go into running a hockey team.”

While it was a long and difficult process, senior and co-president of the club Declan Walsh, who was a first-year student when they began the rebuilding efforts, said he and fellow players knew what they needed to do getting the club back.

“We mapped out what we needed to do, and then all throughout our sophomore year we were slowly checking off that list, and then by the time last year came when we were actually on the ice, it was still a huge learning process,” Walsh said. “I think now we got our feet wet and we know what we’re kind of doing, so from now on, I think we should be more of a well-oiled machine now.”

The players working to bring back hockey were not alone in their quest, with senior and co-president of the club Jason Stoulil giving a lot of credit to Boudreau, who became the advisor of the group.

“Oh, the guy loves hockey just as much as we love playing it,” Stoulil said. “I mean he’s done nothing but good stuff for us. In every aspect he’s backed us up from getting ice to helping us get people to the games.”

Stoulil noted that Boudreau has played a key role in getting the team ice at La Crescent Community Ice Arena, to setting up a website and social media pages for the team to try and keep followers of the club up to date.

Boudreau noted that when it came to getting an arena for the club, he saw the perfect opportunity arise in his hometown of La Crescent.

“They were having problems getting ice time, getting an arena to play at and we kind of saw, and I also saw an opportunity down in La Crescent, I’m from La Crescent, so I really know the arena and the staff and people involved well down there, and I just thought it was a very good place we want to be part of that,” Boudreau said.

For his work with the team, Boudreau was awarded with the “Outstanding Club/Organization Advisor” during the Winona State’s Student Leadership and Involvement award ceremony.

An award that both Stoulil and Walsh said he very much deserved.

Mohammed Islam
Zach Boudreau is in his second year as advisor for Winona State Club Hockey, during this time Boudreau has helped the team find an arena and develop a new website for the team. Boudreu is currently working on increasing the fanbase among students and community members, his long term goal is to have the team be viewed as more than a club sport.

“It’s really reassuring having a guy that we know is always going to be behind us. Even when we do end up doing the wrong thing, he’s going to be there to help us fix it,” Stoulil said. “It just helps us operate as hockey players as much because he takes a lot of the workload on himself, so we can focus on just playing and that’s really helpful.”

While a lot of credit for reestablishing, the organization has been pointed to Boudreau, he has leaned towards giving more credit to his players.

“They were incredible. I don’t know a lot of people that could have gone through all that kind of cleaning up after a previous group of players to bring the program back,” Boudreau said. “It’s just very rewarding. They’re just a bunch of really good, hardworking kids. They’re very disciplined and really the leaders of the team, Dylan Allamian, Jason Stoulil and Declan Walsh. The amount of work that they’ve done to bring it back to this point and put a very talented, and I think what is going to be a successful team on the ice, it’s just been incredible to watch.”

Boudreau was actually surprised when it was announced that he won the award.

“It was a complete shock to me, but I think that really points back to those three players. And I think that they felt that I helped them along the way in the right way,” Boudreau said.

Being a senior, Walsh is glad that the club he put so much effort into will be in their advisor’s hands after he graduates, knowing Boudreau will keep it running smoothly.

Seeing what they have gone through, the team is relieved to now have a sense of normalcy.

“They are excited to be a full member of the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) and also their conference, which is the WCCHA (Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association). So, all their games count,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau also noted it is not only important for the team to have the club back up and running, but important for Winona State as well.

He pointed out that having a program for students is a huge recruiting tool, especially as Minnesota’s state sport, and with the lack of hockey programs in the country, talented players are overflowing.

“You have all these kids that really have nowhere to go that are super talented after high school, and they don’t want to wait, put their college off for two or three years playing junior hockey, trying to maybe play somewhere like a D-III school that can’t even give them a scholarship,” Boudreau said. “We just have a great situation being where we’re at, just having these incredible players looking for somewhere to play, continue playing hockey. So, it’s really exciting to be part of that.”

However, there are still problems that exist within the club, such as fan support.

While La Crescent is not a far from Winona, it is still a half-hour drive, this not a problem unbeknown to the team.

“We have seen at several places that we’ve played that there’s other schools where they’re similar to Winona State,” Boudreau said. “They’re a similar size, they’re the only hockey program at the school and they get great turnouts for the game, and they do that through busing.”

Busing is something that Boudreau that could be huge for increasing the fanbase of the team, especially with the price low price they offering to the community.

“It’s $7 to get to the game and back and in a way I think it’s almost easier to just be able to walk somewhere on campus, hop on a bus, get a ride to the game, watch a great game of hockey and get a ride back. And you don’t even have to walk to Bud King Arena, you just walk two blocks to the bus and hop on.”

Looking ahead for the team, Winona State will return to La Crescent this weekend for a game against Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m.