Hockey Team Travels to Europe for Joker Cup
by Ian Marks
The Michigan Tech hockey season started a little early this year.
The team took advantage of an NCAA exemption that allows international competition every four years and traveled to Germany and Austria for a working vacation. Tech was one of four teams to compete in the Joker Cup, which featured professional teams from three European leagues.
"We had an amazing time on our trip to Europe," said head coach Jamie Russell. "From the hockey we played, to the sights we saw, to the exposure we got to different cultures, it was truly an incredible adventure. It was also extremely beneficial from a team-building and bonding experience.
"The Huskies had skated together for just ten days prior to their departure on August 11. They wasted no time upon their arrival in Kaufbeuren, Germany, heading to the rink for practice. They were surprised to find the ends of the rink open to the outside air, the first of several small culture shocks.
"I noticed many different things in terms of both the hockey and the culture," said junior Bryce Reddick. "I was surprised how skilled the hockey was as well as how nice the people were."
Tech found success early on in the tournament, defeating Kaufbeuren 3–0 in its first game. The Huskies would fight hard in their next two games but didn’t come out on the winning end, falling to Linz (2–0) and Augsburger (5–2). Despite the losses, defenseman John Kivisto’s impressive play earned him tournament MVP honors.
A surprise awaited the team at its next stop in St. Polten, Austria. The Huskies were greeted at the Okanagan Hockey School by one of their alumni, Elie Vorlicek (1970–74). Vorlicek, a former forward, is now an instructor at the school that would host the game between Tech and the Vienna Capitals.
Tech would prevail in the offensive shootout against Vienna, 6–5. The following day the team ran out of steam playing its fifth game in six days, falling to Klagenfurt 7–2.
The trip was funded entirely through private donations. Joe and Vickey Dancy, Greg and Cindy Baker, and Dave and Barb Baker provided funding, and many of the players’ families contributed.