CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - It sounds like a contradiction, a concept that just won't work, especially in an area that doesn't even have an ice rink.
But a group of guys from Coastal Carolina University isn't letting those obstacles get in the way of playing. They're embracing them - playing the sport they love - even if they do it in a somewhat unorthodox way.
From their practices, to their coach, to their games, the odds are stacked against these players.
"We only practice usually once a week up in Wilmington," said Zac Mahan, a defensive player from Leicester, MA. And team member Jon Perry (Defense No. 11 from Ladson, SC) added, "It's more like an away game every time you play."
But it's that adversity, that drive to beat the odds, that bands this team together. It's creating a brotherhood on the ice.
"You get to talking, you get all the stories going and you share stuff and you come together," Jon said.
That has turned into a core group of friends at the beach. Their sport of choice may seem out of place, but for these guys, hockey in the south is the best of both worlds.
Forward Brendan McQuiston from Conshohocken, PA said, "You get the hockey from the North and down here, the beautiful weather from the south, so it's awesome."
This isn't your traditional Coastal sport. It's not recognized like basketball or football. CCU Ice Hockey is a club team. A team that recruits on its own, and has evolved on its own.
Brendan said, "As we would practice and practice another guy would show up, and another guy would show up til it turned out to be two teams. And then we started playing in tournaments against other colleges and then it kind of went from there.
Those initial practices didn't happen on the ice; that would have been impossible. The Myrtle Beach area doesn't have an ice rink so this team started playing on a roller rink.
Once recruitment started to take off, the team started traveling to get ice time, making the nearly two hour trip across the state line to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Junior Andrew Kelly (Forward No. 10 from Falmouth, MA) said, "Once we got to ice it was just like being, it was normal."
Living away from the ice means these players need to be self-motivated to get ready for the game. "Without an ice rink we have to do a lot more upstairs in the gym here. Coach has us skip ropes every day. We run two miles a day, Andrew said. "We go from Charleston to basically Northern Virginia, play teams High Point, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington's one of our big rivals."
The team is young. But its players are determined to prove they have what it takes to succeed. "Beyond this season right now we're trying to expand and go up a division," Patrick said.
And if you ask these players, CCU Ice Hockey is only going to grow from here.
Brendan said, "I see good things. We have an awesome coach. I think the future's pretty good for CCU hockey."
The team played 19 games in the 2013-2014 season, beating High Point twice in Wilmington. You can get more stats on the CCU hockey team on their website - http://www.ccuhockey.com/.
At the Sochi Winter Olympics, Team USA's men's ice hockey team defeated the Czech Republic (5-2) in the quarterfinals for their place in the semifinals. They will challenge Canada on Friday, Feb. 21 for their shot to play in the gold medal game.
In Winter Olympics history, Team USA has won 15 men's hockey medals: 3 Gold, 10 Silver, and 2 Bronze. Canada has won the most with 18 medals in the sport.
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