The USF Ice Bulls are one of Tampa Bay’s two hometown college hockey teams — the other is the University of Tampa. The Ice Bulls are a club-level team that plays Division 3 hockey in the ACHA. Unlike Division 1, none of the players are on scholarship. For the most part, they are students that have come to USF for an education, and as a part of their college experience have decided to play ice hockey.
The Ice Bulls finished high enough in the ACHA standings to qualify for regionals. At regionals, they defeated the University of South Carolina and Liberty University to advance on to Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. To get there, the team needs financial help. The team is fundraising through a GoFundMe to help the players with their expenses for the trip. That includes flight, hotel, bus, ice time, and food.
The schedule for Nationals is as follows:
Tue, Mar 14 at 4:45pm: USF vs Calvin (North #1)
Wed, Mar 15 at 1:45pm: USF vs Farmingdale State (Atlantic #2)
Thu, Mar 16 at 10:45am: USF vs Colorado State (Pacific #3)
Fri, Mar 17 at 8:30pm: Semifinals - TBD
Sat, Mar 18 at 7:30pm: Finals - TBD
The Ice Bulls have graciously allowed us to interview a few of their players.
Raw Charge: First, just some basics about you. Where are you from? What is your major? What year are you in?
Danny Hoeflich: I'm from Orlando, been a Floridian my whole life but my parents are from Long Island. I'm a Civil & Environmental Engineering major and I'm a senior and graduate in May.
RC: How old were you when you started playing hockey? What drew you to playing defense?
DH: I played roller when I was 5 and started playing Ice when I was 11. I enjoyed defense way more than offense in every sport I played as a kid. I get a lot more satisfaction out of frustrating players into not being able to score rather than trying to do the scoring.
RC: What about USF drew you to come here for school?
DH: Everything. Tampa is an awesome area and is growing like crazy. I loved the campus on my visit, I don't think there's anywhere better. The engineering school is top of the line. And they had a hockey team.
RC: As President of the club, what are your responsibilities?
DH: My responsibilities are vast and wide. I deal with team relations, payment collection, bill payment. You name it, I have a hand in it. We have requirements through the school that we have to complete to remain a Sports Club which include doing events on campus, going to other team's games and cheering them on, fundraising, and keeping up on social media to name a few. I coordinate getting my team to participate. I deal with the rink management and negotiate ice bills. I call the hotels when we travel and book the rooms. I fill out all the paperwork the school needs. I'm also responsible for representing the team to the University and being the guy that's supposed to know everything involving the team.
RC: What have been some of the bigger challenges with managing the club?
DH: It's difficult to promote and show off this team with so many restrictions from the University. There's so many things we can't do because the University just says no. They have their reasons always, and they aren't trying to harm us in any way and I understand that but one good example is we aren't allowed to sell our jerseys. The brand new green jerseys with the USF on the front are blowing up. People love them. I get asked all the time "where can I buy one?" Unfortunately, the answer is you can't. Athletics owns the rights to the logo (and they were very very generous about letting us use the logo in the first place) and the University has been trying to determine how they want the school to be viewed. Until they make that decision, we can't sell anything.
The last two answers may come off as me complaining, and that may just be in how I wrote them. But I don't want you to misinterpret what I'm trying to say so I'll leave you with this. As President, I spend easily 20 hours a week working for this team, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love this team with all my heart and would do anything for these guys. Being president has honestly been the most influential, beneficial, and rewarding experience of my life. The University is also trying to do nothing but help us in our conquest. It's just very difficult for them to wrap their arms around us because Sports Club's doesn't operate like all the other 700 clubs at the university do, and the Ice Hockey Team doesn't operate like any of the other Sports Clubs.
RC: First, just some basics about you. Where are you from? What is your major? And how do you pronounce your name?
Huw Baveystock: I'm from Reading, England. I'm a double major in mass communications and sociology with a minor in philosophy. It's pronounced Hugh, like Hugh Grant.
RC: How old were you when you started playing hockey? What drew you to playing forward?
HB: I started playing ice hockey when I was eight years old. My older brother (Jack) started playing six months before me and he played defense so I followed in his footsteps and played defense too for a short period of time. I kept getting bored standing at the blue line and always wanted to join the offensive rush so eventually my coach thought why fight it and put me on right wing and although I've moved from right to center to left and back again, I've been a forward ever since.
RC: Is there any player that you’ve tried to model your game after? Are you more of a playmaker or a shooter?
HB: If there's any player that I've tried to model my game after, it's Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks. He's an in-betweener because he plays like a grinder with his aggressiveness and physicality but he's also able to dangle and snipe in the big moments so I think he's just all-around, classic, old time hockey player. I've always considered myself to be a grinder. I've never really had hands so in junior hockey the only way I was getting ice time was by skating hard on the forecheck and finishing my checks. However recently I've been finding myself in the right place to score goals and although I wouldn't say I have a snipe, I'm becoming more of a shooter with a grinder-edge to my game.
RC: Being from England, do you follow the EIHL? What’s your favorite team from back home? Favorite NHL team?
HB: I don't really follow the EIHL anymore but when I did my favorite team was the Nottingham Panthers. One of my favorite players from my hometown hockey team growing up (Danny Myers) went on to be their captain so I followed them for a bit. Nottingham is also where my step dad grew up and where my brother went to university so they will always be my favorite team in the Elite League. But my favorite pro team back home will always be the Bracknell Bees who play in the league below (the EPIHL). I played at Bracknell for ten years and still remember when I used to be a mascot at their games as a peewee. Although I'm a USF Ice Bull now a part of me will always be a Bracknell Bee and I'd love to one day have the opportunity to go back and wear the black and yellow once again.
My favorite NHL team is the Tampa Bay Lightning but the first team I followed in the NHL was the Vancouver Canucks. My brother and I only started following the NHL around 2010 or 2011 and for some reason we were drawn to the Canucks who had Ryan Kesler, the Sedin Twins and Roberto Luongo at the time. They were just a fun team to watch so we started following them religiously and that was the year they made it to game seven of the Stanley Cup Final only to lose 3-0 to the Boston Bruins. I stayed up till 6 am that day to watch the game live because of the time difference and I still remember falling asleep on my desk at school the next day because of it. Only when I moved to Tampa did I start following the Lightning.
RC: That was certainly a good time to follow the Canucks. They were a really fun team to watch at that time.
HB: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I still follow them now but the Sedin Twins aren't what they used to be and they only have young prospect Bo Horvat leading their offense. Shame because if they kept Kesler, Bieksa etc. they really could've been something.
I once tried recording games to watch them when I get home from school or work and leaving my phone at home so I didn't find out the score on social media but I always ended up accidentally finding out somehow!
RC: What about USF and the Tampa area drew you to come here for school and to play hockey?
HB: I never even knew USF existed until I met some of their reps at a chance meeting at a university fair in London. My first question was if USF had an ice hockey team and they said they did so that was a deal breaker. It was always my dream to play hockey in the states but I never thought it was possible, I didn't even think I'd make the USF team honestly. Above anything, tuition is so much more expensive in the states so when USF told me that with a good score on the SAT I could get a scholarship, I was set on moving to America and studying at USF. Also my family and I used to vacation in Naples, Florida every year so living and studying in Florida or let alone America was always an attractive option. Then I visited the campus and downtown Tampa and my heart was stolen and I never looked back.
RC: With this being your senior year, have you made any plans for the future? Are you interested in pursuing professional hockey after you graduate?
HB: My plan for after graduation is to stay in the U.S. and hopefully not get deported. I've built a life here so I can't see myself moving back home and starting all over again. The USF hockey team of past and present and the people I've met through it are like family to me now so I want to start the next chapter of my life here in Tampa, at least for the foreseeable future. If I were to go back home, I'd be interested in pursuing professional hockey on the side of a full-time job but if not then it looks like it's beer league for me.
RC: First, just some basics about you. Where are you from? What is your major? What year are you in?
SC: I was born in Omaha Nebraska but I have lived in the Tampa area since I was 3. I am a Biomedical Sciences major in my first year and I plan to go on to become a Doctor.
RC: How old were you when you started playing hockey? What drew you to playing goalie?
SC: I was five years old when I started playing hockey. I actually began as an out player but quickly started switching back and forth and playing both positions. My main inspiration for playing goal was a result of my father playing goal. My father played in goal growing up in Ohio so I was biased towards the position from the start.
RC: What about USF drew you to come here for school?
SC: I was drawn to USF primarily for two reasons. The first is the great medical program that the school offers which made USF the hands down choice for me in Florida. The second reason I was interested in USF is actually due to the proximity of the school from my home. This allows me to go to school for a lot cheaper which I can then save towards medical school.
RC: Did the Lightning influence you to get involved in hockey?
SC: Since I grew up in Tampa playing hockey, the Lightning have always had a big impact on me. I remember the countless years where I went to lightning sponsored hockey events. I also have tons of autographed photos and pictures of me with players on the team from over the years. The most important piece though, I would argue, is a hat signed by all players on the 2004 Stanley Cup winning team.
RC: What did you think of the Ben Bishop trade to the Los Angeles Kings?
SC: Now this is a tough one. I had a feeling they were looking to move Bishop since Vasy seemed to be getting way more games this season. At the moment however I do not like this trade. I'm not sure I trust Andrei Vasilevskiy yet as a starting netminder. Peter Budaj has done pretty well for the Kings this year but I don't feel he's someone who can take reigns from Bishop either. In addition we get a defensive prospect and a conditional draft pick. Not much honestly. But I'm hoping for the best and will remain optimistic!