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Arts and Entertainment

SMS Hockey Bears Program Gaining Strength

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/smshockeyb_886.mp3

The SMS Hockey Bears are impressive. Going into the weekend of November 21st, the club team has a record of 10 wins and 2 losses. Mike Smith has the story.

Despite last Fridays loss to 12th ranked northern Iowa, the SMS Volleyball team moved into this weeks USA TODAY/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll at number 24 and can clinch a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title, and the top seed to the conference championship, with a victory over Wichita State tonight. (Nov. 21)

At the same time the Volley Bears have, going into tonight's game, racked up a 25 and 4 record, another SMS team has quietly gone about the business of regularly defeating its opponents.

Well into their third season an a club team at SMS, the Hockey Bears are 12 and 2 as of today, and Head Coach Benjamin Alexander says that record, along with the team being elevated to Division 2 status earlier this year, is bringing to the Bears, a lot of attention and respect from college hockey fans and foes alike.

26 players are on the team roster. All but 2 are from the St. Louis area which has a strong hockey program at the high school level.

General Manager Stan Melton leads a staff of 9 which includes his assistant, the head coach and his assistants, SMS interns, Director of Sales Lisa Hamaker, and Director of Marketing Louise Whall.

The Hockey Bears fan base is growing too. Over 1000 people attended the teams last 2 home games at Jordan Valley Ice Park.

Sponsoring a hockey team isn't cheap with all the equipment needed for the program, but one of the biggest bills the Hockey Bears have to pay is for the use of the ice. For games or for practice, the ice fee at Jordan Valley Ice Park is $145 and hour. But interestingly, the biggest source of revenue for the Hockey Bears comes from the players themselves. Remember, at SMS, ice hockey is a club sport, and each member of the team ahs to pay to play.

Matt Greenwood, who plays defense for the Bears says the fee is $900 a season but to those who love to play, is worth the price. Other sources of revenue for the team include ticket sales, advertising, sponsorships, and special promotions.

SOFAC, the Student Organization Funding Allocation Council, has again this year, awarded $5,000 to the Hockey Bears.

Head Coach Benjamin Alexander hopes someday, the team will become part of the SMSU Athletic Department. He says it may take 5 or 10 years, but he thinks SMS can be convinced to pick up the team.

For information on the SMS Hockey Bears: www.smsbearshockey.com.