ROANOKE (WSLS10) -Fighting it out on the ice night after night, the hokies club team not only shoots for big goals in the rink, but in the crowds. General Manager Chris Arnold says it's a unique experience for General Manager Chris Arnold says it's a unique experience for fans in both the New River and Roanoke Valley and continues to help draw students to Virginia Tech
"It's a great recruiting tool. The kids that come in here, they see what kind of a show we put on during our home games and those kids are like, holy cow I want to go to this, I want to go to tech," Arnold said."
Although they are a club team, hockey is the third most attended sport at Virginia Tech. Despite the ranking though, Arnold says game attendance this year has been down.
"The past couple of seasons we've been over 900 and 1000 per game. This year it's probably going to be challenging to get to 900," Arnold said.
Financially, ticket and merchandise sales are their life-blood. A season costs the team more than $75,000 a year ---but they only receive $8,600 from the university. Each player even has to pay $1,700 dollars per season.
"These kids really are out here truly for the love of hockey," Arnold said.
Only costing the team more, their remaining 7 regular season games have to played away because next week their rink in Roanoke will be closed for the season as the Berglund Center prepares for other events.
But next season is looking up. Now that Roanoke will bring back a professional team with the Roanoke Railyard Dawgs, the rink will stay open well into April. Hokie head coach Joe Mullen believes the hype will also help fill more seats for tech.
"For the true hockey fans here getting more hockey, and hopefully you'll get the novice fans who come out and see the railyard dogs and they notice that tech has got a hockey team here, so why don't we go check out them."
"Their fans can come over to us, our fans can go to them. It can be a win-win for both of us," Arnold said.
The last regular season home game will begin at noon on Saturday at the Berglund Center in Roanoke.