CEDAR RAPIDS — The University of Iowa men’s club hockey team will have a new home.
A two-year agreement has been struck for the Hawkeyes to practice and play games beginning next season at the ImOn Ice arena. Iowa has been playing and practicing at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.
“It’s a win for everybody,” said Iowa head coach Kevin Brooks.
Iowa is 20-0 and ranked sixth in the Central Region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, Division II. Its roster includes local kids Ethan Welch, Ethan Snee, Ryan Carlson and Carter Jiran.
Brooks is a former Cedar Rapids RoughRiders player and assistant coach. He said his hope is to play doubleheaders with the RoughRiders in order to gain more fans.
Iowa will get its own locker room at the arena, which it will refurbish via donations to the club. It will sell game tickets through TicketMaster and have a merchandise stand at every game.
Concessions, including alcohol, will be sold at all home games.
“The hockey world is a very small place,” said ImOn Ice General Manager Erik Hudson. “A friend of mine in the hockey realm mentioned that I should reach out to Coach Brooks, introduce myself and maybe we could call about the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Him and I had a great dialogue, one thing led to another, and here we are with this agreement for ImOn Ice to be the home of the Hawkeyes for the next two seasons.”
It should be stressed this is a club hockey team, not a full-fledged varsity team that gets funding from the school. It raises money to exist, travel and play games throughout the Midwest.
All players, obviously, are University of Iowa students, and Brooks said recruiting is a major part of his job. It is interesting that despite a new ice arena being constructed in nearby Coralville, these Hawkeyes are choosing to play in Cedar Rapids.
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Part of that most certainly is rent and ice availability. Coralville is expected to eventually announce a minor-league professional team from the ECHL coming in as a main tenant, sources say, which obviously would get preferential treatment.
“For what we’re doing, there’s no other program that is going to offer players what we are,” Brooks said. “You throw that on top of being a Big Ten school, Iowa City, our business program, our sports management program, that’s a lot to offer a kid.”
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