Evangeline Colarossi — Staff Writer
The Dordt Blades played its final home games this semester on short notice. On January 24th and 25th the Blades faced off against the University of Nebraska Lincoln in their home rink, four games shorter than expected. Two games prior to this were cancelled, along with two scheduled after this match.
The Blades were scheduled to play the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO), a non-AHA affiliated team at the start of the semester. In order to play, both teams must have had their registration with the USA Hockey administration finalized. This ensures insurance coverage in case of injury. If one team is insured but the other is not, the team insurance is not applied to injuries sustained in a match. When game day approached and the UNO team still hadn’t registered, the Blades coaches canceled the game.
“I just can’t in good conscience put my guys in that position. It’s unfair to them or their parents,” said Nate van Niejanhuis, Blades coach. “It’s frustrating, and certainly not what we planned on. It negatively impacts both teams.”
Minnesota State Moorhead (MSM) was another team that the Blades were scheduled to play. This would have been the final home game of the season, scheduled for January 30 and 31. As a newer program, MSM is still in the process of building its hockey team and keeping consistent numbers. At Christmas break MSM was set to play, but by the time spring semester started the team had only eight skaters and no goaltender.
“Without a goalie there’s not much you can do in terms of having a quality hockey game,” said van Niejanhuis.
This would have been the first time for the Blades to play both UNO and MSM. Van Niejanhuis is looking for competitive opportunities to play this season and would like to schedule more games that require less travel.
“We live in a hockey wasteland,” said van Niejanhuis. “If I can find an opponent that is two and a half hours away, then I want to develop that relationship and build that rapport where we can have an annual home-and-home series.”
The Blades will play their last game in Omaha this weekend, facing off against Creighton. Instead of a Friday/Saturday match, they will just play Saturday. On February 14th and 15th, the team will travel to Springfield, MO to play in the League Playoffs as their final matches of the season.
Despite the team’s frustration and disappointment at the cancelled games, van Niejanhuis still sees the players as having grown through the semester and hopes to maintain that for future recruits.
“We’ve got good kids in that locker room that are serious students and capable athletes.” he said, “They’re intentional about how they do things: faith, life, academics, and hockey.”