CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - In just their sixth season, the Coastal Carolina University club ice hockey team captured their first league championship in school history.
The crazy thing is the team doesn’t even play near the Grand Strand or Pee Dee because there is no local hockey rink to use. The team travels to Wilmington, North Carolina for home games.
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Chants who only won six games two years ago.
This season, the team finished with 15 wins and a chance to play in their regional tournament to compete for a spot at nationals. While the taste of victory is sweet it does come with a cost for these players, who pay nearly $2,000 each to play the sport they all love.
Curtis Rattner is a senior on the team and hopes the victory will give the team more exposure to one day have a home ice rink.
"I’d love to hear any day now that they’re breaking ground on a rink it would be amazing," said Rattner.
As a club sport it costs the team close to $35,000 to compete each season, which is partially funded by the university.
Money aside, most just play for the love the game.
“We’ve all grown up playing hockey,” said Griffin Williams.
Williams plays goalie and recalls the dramatic closing seconds of their 4-3 victory over Liberty University.
“We all just bought in and believed and pulled it out it was awesome,” said Brenden Engtow.
Team president C.J. Guarino has played the last three seasons with the Chants and won six games his first season. Two years later he caps off his senior year with a title.
“It means a lot to be the president this year and finally win a championship for a team,” said Guarino.
Though the team doesn’t always receive the recognition, they know they’re heading in the right direction under head coach Mike deCarle.
“He’s awesome, we’re very happy to have him as our coach and the driving force behind the team,” said Guarino.
The team is currently ranked 14th in the region and needs to break into the top ten to compete at the regional championship, those rankings will be announced Friday.
“We have a great group of guys, the locker room is amazing and clearly we win,” said Williams.
The team has also started a GoFundMe account for championship rings to commemorate the championship season.