After being in existence for only five years, the Coastal Carolina Club Ice Hockey team became the first club sport at Coastal Carolina to bring home a major championship. The Chanticleers defeated Liberty by a score of 4-3 on Sunday, Feb. 10 in Lynchburg, Va.
Center Curtis Rattner has been on the team for four years and talked about what went through his head the moment the final horn sounded, crowning Coastal Carolina champions.
“I was shocked,” said Rattner. “In years past, I have been on teams that have blown games so for us to not let it slip. It was a surreal feeling.”
Rattner went into detail about a few games that the Chanticleers were close in sealing a win but allowed the team to come back in the final stages.
“We blew a three-oh lead to Christopher Newport earlier this year and then we gave up a goal to UNC-Wilmington in the final eight seconds of the game,” said Rattner. “I had seen it happen so many times, I was nervous that it was going to happen again.”
Luckily for Rattner, he did not see his fear play out on the ice again and the Chanticleers were able to come back from being down 3-1 at the start of the third period to defeat Liberty for the title.
While Liberty is not a big rival on the ice for the club hockey team, there is just something about ‘that team from Virginia’. The rivalry dates back to when Liberty joined the Big South Conference in 1991 and things quickly escalated when Coastal Carolina began their football program in 2003. That was when everything sports on campus became about “beating Liberty”.
Defensemen CJ Guarino talked about the rivalry on the ice with Liberty and what it meant to be a part of that history.
“We had never beaten Liberty,” said Guarino. “So, for us to do it in a championship game on their home ice was pretty sweet. After we won, I had phone calls from players on other teams call me and say that they were so happy that we won and beat Liberty. It was like all our rivals wanted us to win because no one likes Liberty.”
The Coastal Carolina Club Ice Hockey team has faced some pretty big challenges throughout their season.
The closest ice rink that the team can practice and play on is in Wilmington, North Carolina. That poses a challenge in itself because it withholds the team from practicing multiple times a week like how other teams get to do.
Hurricane Florence hitting Wilmington in Sep. 2018 did not make things any easier for the team. Not only was the team evacuated from campus for nearly a month, the Wilmington Ice House – where the team plays and practices – was shut down due to power loss from storm.
Ricky Cincotta, who plays right wing for the Chanticleers, opened up about what winning a championship meant to the team after all the struggle that the team had gone through.
“Our first games back from Florence were against Liberty and we hadn’t been on the ice for over three weeks and it showed,” said Cincotta. “We were out of shape and we lost both games. After that series, we told ourselves we were going to get them in the playoffs. We tied them in the first game of the playoffs. And then while we were down throughout a majority of the championship game, we pulled through and were able to come out on top.”