UW, EWU face off on Saturday evening
By Don Nelson
College ice hockey is a popular game with devoted fans in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S., but in the Pacific Northwest, it’s not a major collegiate sport.
Still, rink rats will find a way, as they have at university club teams around the country that make up the American College Hockey Association (ACHA).
Two ACHA members, club teams from the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University, will play a pretty good brand of college hockey at the Winthrop Rink on Saturday (Feb. 17) in the second annual Apple Puck game.
In last year’s inaugural Apple Puck, the UW Huskies blanked the Washington State University Cougars, 8-0, in a game that drew more than 350 enthused spectators to Winthrop’s outdoor rink.
Saturday’s game promises to be another well-attended event. Admission is $10 at the door for general admission seating, and kids age 5 and under get in free. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the puck drops at 6 p.m. for a regulation game on a regulation-size rink.
Rink general manager Connor Walsh said the rink will have four sets of bleachers that can hold 200 people, plus viewing upstairs in the main building and around the perimeter of the rink. Fans are asked to park in the Winthrop Town Trailhead parking lot above the rink, just off of White Avenue.
The event will include food and drinks — brats, hot dogs and burgers barbecued by Bart Northcott of B-S Bar-B-Que, and beer from Winthrop’s Old Schoolhouse Brewery — as well as hot chocolate, coffee and snacks at the rink concession stand.
During intermissions, fans can take part in promotions such as Chuck-A-Puck (people purchase foam pucks for $1 to throw at a target to win a prize), Blue Line Slapshot (fans will have the opportunity to take a shot from the blue line to win a prize), 50/50 drawings and more.
The Apple Puck will be Winthrop Rink’s largest fundraising event of the year, as well as a fundraiser for both of the college teams.
ACHA is the governing body for non-varsity college teams and includes about 450 teams across the country. ACHA teams are responsible for raising their own funds for travel, gear, jerseys and referees.
UW plays in the Pacific 8 Intercollegiate Hockey Association, which also includes Oregon, WSU, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Arizona State. EWU is a member of the Northern Pacific Hockey Conference. The Huskies played the Eagles at Cheney earlier in the 2017-18 season and the UW won, 4-1.
Western Washington, University of Puget Sound, Portland State University and Gonzaga are among other collegiate club teams in the Northwest.
In 2017, UW finished second to UCLA in the Pac 8 league. The Huskies have won the league championship twice, in 2011 and 2012.
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