By Jack Hirsh
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — A night full of hard hits, brilliant goals and a few fights here and there ended in an Oregon Ducks win in a first-ever venue — for them, and for Central Oregon.
But these were Ducks maybe you haven’t seen before.
The Oregon Ducks club hockey team defeated Boise State 7-4 in front of a sell-out crowd at The Pavilion Friday night. It was the first college hockey game ever played in Bend.
Oregon Coach Rylee Orr told NewsChannel 21 before the gamey: “People had told us about this venue, and we stopped in on the way back (from a trip to Boise), saw it, and the vision was created.”
Playing at different venues across the state is part of the team’s quest to earn NCAA status.
“We knew we needed to get statewide support,” Orr said. “We’ve done games in Southern Oregon, in Medford.”
The team is a member of the American College Hockey Association and the Division II Pac-8 Conference. However, the Ducks recently announced a move to Division I for next season.
After winning the Pac-8 Conference, which is made up of mostly Pac-12 schools, the last two seasons they played (there was no season in 2020-21), the Ducks are undefeated in conference play this season, including Friday’s win.
Center Griffin Minchin said: “Definitely a big step up, but I mean, we should have what it takes to be a good team.”
Minchin is the only player on the roster who calls Oregon home. Many of the players, like leading goal-scorer Connor Rendell, hail from Canada.
“Oregon is not really known for hockey, to be honest,” Rendell said. “Having us up here (in Bend), having a full sold-out crowd tonight, allowing all the guys to experience this, an outdoor game like this is pretty special.”
And Rendell was special on Friday night, notching a hat trick, three goals in the win. And the crowd loved it.
Oregon hockey alumnus Chris Eberle said: “It’s awesome to see college hockey in Central Oregon.”
And the Ducks’ play may have even inspired some in the crowd.
“I can’t wait to try out (for the team),” young Bend Rapids player Nico Norris said.” I want to get there one day. It’s going to be pretty great.”
The Ducks and Broncos will meet again on Saturday at 4 p.m. That game is also sold out.
(Originally published at https://ktvz.com/sports/2022/01/07/oregon-ducks-earn-7-4-win-over-boise-state-in-bend-first-college-hockey-game/)