During the hockey season, the student section and players are normally two separate entities. While glass may separate the two during the season, the communities recently took the ice together to compete for a coveted prize of free season tickets.
A line of students wrapped around the Kohl Center on Wednesday, Sept. 27, to test their luck in the 2023 Student Shootout.
The shootout challenge consisted of four mini hockey nets positioned across the ice into which contestants would have three attempts to make a shot. Prior to the commencement of the shootout, head coach Mike Hastings addressed the student section alongside two team captains, welcoming everyone to the event.
“I look forward to starting to build a relationship between our students, our staff and our players,” Hastings said. “Hopefully at the end of the day when you’re talking to people at other universities, other places, you feel very proud about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and how we treat you.”
Only a week and a half out from the first game of the season, the event sought to energize the student body for the upcoming home opener against Augustana College.
“[The first game] is going to be a special night. There’s a lot of stuff planned for you guys, like a light show,” team captain Mike Vorlicky said. “We need you guys to be live, active and making this place hard to play in. As long as you do that, we’ll have a hell of a year.”
While the event stood to kick off the 2023-24 hockey season in a fun way, it also served an even greater purpose of bridging the gap between students and players.
“It’s really special to see you all coming out here and supporting us,” Vorlicky said. “It’s a big deal. We started this journey together, and we want you guys to be a huge part of it, so [we] really appreciate you guys coming out and all you guys do.”
As the final week of preseason ticks down, coaches, players and fans anxiously await the start and look forward to seeing how the rest of the season unravels.
“I want to say it for myself, the staff and our entire program: Thanks for being here,” Hastings said. “We look forward to seeing you here as much as you can get here, and we’re going to do everything to make you proud.”
The home opener will take place at the Kohl Center on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.