The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

Hidden gems in sports: The University of Akron Zips Hockey Team

Get to know the team on and off the ice.
Olivia Kurylo
Zips Hockey Team warming up before Cincinnati game.

Concealed by golden shrubbery and trees painted in fall foliage, a small brick-lined patio remains untouched by students at The University of Akron. The only signs of use are the animals scurrying between bushes and trees. Around the enclosed communal space, students make their way to classes or the bustling Jean Hower Taber Student Union located behind the quiet patio.  

If the space was as advertised as the student union itself, surely it would receive more traffic. While the union houses eateries such as Chick-fil-a, Auntie Anne’s, and Starbucks, the small patio only hosted tables, chairs, and a beautiful landscape of various plants and trees, waiting to be used, enjoyed…appreciated.  

Much like this little spot on campus, certain sports at UA tend to be overlooked. Flyers showcasing sports such as football, baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball are posted all over The University of Akron. While the spotlight remains on the big-name sports located directly on campus, those referred to as “club sports” soak in whatever light is leftover. They are concealed behind a lack of advertisement that unjustly obscures them from campus news and student life.  

Even when ice hockey remains one of the major sports in Ohio with the popular NHL Columbus Blue Jackets team, the club sport obscurity still appears to be a struggle for The University of Akron Zips Hockey Team. 

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Initially established in 2006, the ice hockey team at UA has seen multiple generations of Zips players, although it still remains just as the small garden patio. The team isn’t just a small club of players, but it is part of the Division III College Hockey East conference and American Collegiate Hockey Association. 

Defenseman #14 Jake Lubic. (Olivia Kurylo)

Sitting at a table located in the heart of the patio clad in a Pittsburgh t-shirt reminiscent of home, UA junior Jake Lubic, describes the ice hockey team and its impact. Lubic serves as president of the ice hockey team and has played as a defenseman on the team since joining his freshman year. Beside him his teammate, Kyle Gavin, sports an Akron Zips t-shirt and a signature smile. Gavin serves as treasurer of the ice hockey team alongside Lubic and has been a forward for five years.  

While many of the players on UA’s ice hockey team are from Ohio, others join the University from Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York and even Canada. Even with players from all over different parts of North America, the team couldn’t be any closer. 

When they aren’t at training camp early in the season, practice during the week, or battling other collegiate teams on the weekends, the Zips’ ice hockey team is inseparable. On the weekends, the team can be found in one of many off-campus homes playing video games or engaging in a friendly soccer or football game outside. Lubic also states that many of the players live with their teammates. 

The team is even involved with the local community, spending time teaching the sport they love to the youth.  

“We usually do a Mite Skate, which is just, we get the local kids teams at the rink, which is six to ten, somewhere in that age group,” Lubic explains. “And they play a game where we’re just coaching them and having fun.”  

Before every Monday practice, head coach Matt “Cookie” Koch hosts a program called “Life University” that brings in speakers to teach the players about crucial aspects of adult life to help them transition from collegiate life into the workforce. These aspects include anything from finances to professional advice. 

Gavin expresses that the meetings help the team know more about business-related topics and practical skills. The program sets the UA Hockey team apart from other collegiate teams. 

Foward #97 Kyle Gavin. (Olivia Kurylo)

With the speakers, the players are able to see a wide array of successful figures in several occupations. Some past guest speakers include Al McCann, Paul Hervey, and Brandon Chrostowski. Coach Cookie’s program was also recognized by 

Outside of the rink, the team members push each other in their academics and make sure no player falls behind in their education.  

“Yeah, I mean, we try to push each other inside of the classroom,” Lubic said. “You need to maintain a 2.0 GPA. Which is pretty low, but, you know, some kids still struggle with that.”

According to Lubic, the team helps one another with the academics.

“We try to make sure we have enough time to do our homework,” he said. “If someone’s falling behind, we have a lot of upperclassmen and a lot of them have taken classes that the younger ones are taking so they help out a lot. I’m helping out with my roommate,” Lubic said.

Joining his two teammates, sophomore forward Logan Amore explains the importance of the team in his athletic and academic life. 

“When you see other sports I don’t see as much of a family basis as Akron Hockey is,” Amore said. “We mainly focus on our school work first. We’re obviously not going to play hockey past college so we help each other out through school work and just anything through life,” he said.

Perhaps the players won’t take ice hockey past the collegiate level, but they still take the game just as seriously. Each player has his own ritual that helps him to tap into game mode and prepare for the intensity of such a fast-paced sport. 

“I have a long list of superstitions,” said Gavin, “so, I am always the first one at the rink on game days, especially home games. I always get there at least two hours early. Some people might say that’s a bit excessive but I don’t,” he said.

The list includes more than just the early arrival.

“I always have my coffee from Dunks, always,” he said. “I just kinda listen to music and zone myself out from everyone. I try not to speak to a lot of my teammates. I just get in the mood. That list [of superstitions] could be really long,” Gavin said. 

Forward #88 Logan Amore. (Olivia Kurylo)

On the other hand, Lubic and Amore find their pre-game preparation in a light-hearted soccer match with their teammates, which is followed by music motivational speeches. 

Either way, the team’s traditions prior to their games must work as the Zips found themselves at Colorado Springs last year, facing off against the Airforce Academy in the first round of playoffs.  

This year, the players expect to make it to the playoffs once again. Lubic expressed his confidence about the playoffs and his excitement for this year. 

As of Sept. 30, 2023, the Zips’ ice hockey team has won three out of four games. 

So why is this team consistently unnoticed? 

“I know in previous years there wasn’t much advertising or anything. They didn’t have any other social media presence. So we’re trying to build that up, which isn’t exactly an easy task, but we’re working towards that. I think it’s also hard because our rink is twenty minutes away, so getting people there is another factor,” Lubic said.  

With all the efforts club sports are taking to make athletes better, whether in the classroom or for their futures, UA’s hockey team and other athletes shouldn’t be cast from the spotlight of campus sports.   

For for information on The University of Akrons Zips Hockey Team and their game schedules, please visit 

Find the team on social using the links: 

Akron Zips Hockey Twitter 

Zipspuck Instagram 

Akron Zips Hockey YouTube 


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Olivia Kurylo
Olivia Kurylo, Correspondent
Olivia Kurylo is a second-year student majoring in English. She plans to minor in Creative Writing and earn a certificate in Professional Social Media. Olivia hopes to pursue a career in the Publishing and Editing fields. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family.  Fun fact: My favorite movie is Little Women (2019). 
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