New “College Town” Tradition Starts
UM-Flint club to heat up the ice against Kettering in Flint’s first Carburetor Cup
Nevermind the NHL lockout. Quench your hockey cravings at Flint’s first-ever Carburetor Cup, when UM-Flint will face off against rival Kettering University. The puck drops at 8 p.m. at Perani Arena.
The traveling trophy is expected to fuel a rivalry that began heating up even before 2009 graduate Tom Garavaglia started UM-Flint’s hockey club.
“Kettering is absolutely a rival team for us,” said Michael Schunot, a former player now in his first year as the team’s head coach. “The schools are close together and a lot of these guys grew up playing against one another.”
The club is 6-1 this season. Players recently won 6-5 over Michigan State University’s club team in a shootout, and twice defeated Oakland, a team they’d beaten only once before this year. About 80 percent of the team hails from Genesee County schools.
Schunot said he is expecting strong efforts from several players, especially senior goalie Kirk Allen, senior forward Matt Murdock, junior forward Dan Cowan, junior defenseman Brian Gibbons, and junior forward Will Dawson.
“All the players are leading forth on the team. They do a great job contributing both offensively and defensively,” Schunot said.
The Michigan-Flint club is now in its sixth year. In the 2009-2010 season, the club joined Division 3 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and later the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC).
Team General Manager Bill Golling said expectations were high that first year. Enthusiasm for the sport didn’t translate into wins, though. The team went 1-32 the first year and won two games the second year.
“Sports teaches us different lessons — not always the most important lessons — but it does teach lessons along the way,” said Golling, who coached the team the first four seasons.
Assistant coach Don Edwards of Linden said by the third season the team started winning some games, providing a lift and some much-needed motivation.
“A combination of a lot of things have helped us improve: Players who have been with us from the beginning have gotten much better, new kids have added to the talent. And we’ve gone from not just competing, but competing to do the best,” Edwards said.
Last year the team made it to the regional playoffs, and was one win away from a bid in the national tournament.
Kirk Allen, president of the UM-Flint hockey club, has seen a noticeable shift during the five years he’s been goaltending with the team.
“Our team has gotten better, our record has gotten better, the team chemistry has gotten better,” said Allen, noting players take practices seriously and have strengthened team cohesiveness. “It’s very exciting to be part of the team through all the changes.”
Allen, 22, is studying elementary education at UM-Flint. He started skating at 2, became a goalie when he was 8, was a goaltender for Swartz Creek, and has been coaching youth hockey the past seven years. UM-Flint proved a perfect fit for his educational, hockey, and youth coaching goals.
“I looked at UM-Flint right away because it was close to home, I could play hockey, stay involved with the community and maintain a social life on campus,” said Allen.
Sponsorship from Golling Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Bloomfield Hills helps offset the cost to players, who pay $250 a month during the season, and participate in club fundraisers. Support for the program has come from other corners, too, Golling said, such as UM-Flint Chancellor Ruth Person and Club Sports Coordinator Dillon Thorne.
This is Schunot’s sixth year with the program. He joined as a player while completing graduate studies in social science and served as an assistant coach before taking on the role of head coach this year. He’s also a teacher at Grand Blanc Middle School.
Schunot has high hopes for continuing the season’s success. “We’re looking to carry that momentum forward to win the MCHC conference, the Big 10 tournament and make it to the nationals for the first time in the program’s history. If we can do those things we’ll consider it a successful season.”
Both Schunot and Allen are looking forward to the Carburetor Cup. Kettering is always one of the first teams players look for on the schedule, said Allen.
“There is that cross-town rivalry, and we get a good turnout,” said Allen. “Regardless of how our season or their season is going, it’s always an intense game.”
The Cup is a phenomenal opportunity for UM-Flint alumni and students to watch the ice heat up and witness history in the making as the two teams compete for the first trophy. A portion of gate fees will go to support the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint. The Office of Alumni Relations has reserved the Blue Line Room, a private suite overlooking the game, for alumni and students. Free pizza and soft drinks will be served. The puck drops at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at Perani Arena.
What: First Carburetor Cup, winning team is awarded traveling trophy
Contenders: UM-Flint vs. Kettering University
When: 8:00 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2
Where: Perani Arena & Event Center, 3501 Lapeer Road, Flint
Who: Open to all; free to UM-Flint students and faculty and to children 12 and younger
Cost: $5 adults / $3 seniors 60 +
Partners: Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint, University of Michigan-Flint Hockey Team, Kettering University Hockey Team, University of Michigan-Flint Office of Alumni Relations.