The University of New Mexico’s men’s club hockey team has decided to suspend the fall portion of its season.
The team announced the decision on its official Facebook page on Aug. 18, becoming the latest UNM team sport to fall victim to COVID-19’s effect on the competitive sporting landscape. In the post, head coach Grant Harvey cited the team’s decision to comply with the University’s policy regarding contact sports as the reason for the fall season’s postponement.
“It's with heavy heart that I relay that Lobo hockey will be suspended for fall to comply with our school's policy with contact sports,” Harvey wrote. “I know that many conferences have followed suit, and I have to support UNM's decision and hope to face a spring semester in a safe manner.”
In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Harvey spoke about the factors that led to the decision.
“Student Activities Director (Ryan Lindquist) said any contact sport for the Lobos couldn’t play,” Harvey said. “It’s my responsibility to tell any of the teams we had scheduled, ‘Hey, don’t count us in.’”
The club hockey team, fresh off a 13-12-2 record during the 2019-20 season, was looking toward this season as a chance to continue its growth as a team. Last year’s roster was mostly composed of first-year players. With a year of collegiate hockey under the team’s collective belts, hopes were high that this would be the year for them to take the next step.
As is the case with many fall sports, there is still hope yet for the spring semester.
“If we can play in the spring, I believe we’ll be able to fill in the gaps nicely,” Harvey said. “We’ll be so hungry to play, we’ll go travel.”
Part of coach Harvey’s optimism stemmed from the fact that many schools will have gaps in their schedules due to other universities canceling their entire seasons.
“It’ll be a little tricky to schedule opponents, but I think there’s a lot of schools that will be more than happy to play us,” Harvey said.
Until the spring rolls around, the challenge of keeping up with his players in a COVID-19 world remains.
“The logistics of playing next year essentially in spring, and how we’re going to still stay sharp (will be difficult),” Harvey said. “We can’t practice, and we can’t congregate.”
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In the face of yet another challenge borne of the pandemic, Harvey is hopeful his team will return to the ice this spring with its fans right behind them.
“Hockey in this town is based on momentum,” Harvey said. “I’m hoping our fans remember us and stick with us and have some patience, and we’ll come back as strong as ever.”
Gino Gutierrez is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GGutierrez_48