Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 29, 1996

On Sports:
Johns Hopkins Ice Hockey Club Carries On 100-Year Tradition

Parag Nene
Special to The Gazette

     When the subject of ice hockey is raised in sporting
parlors, it's doubtful that the name Johns Hopkins springs into
anyone's mind. But before pucks went high-tech, and professional
players went out on strike, competitive intercollegiate ice
hockey in the United States got its start right here.

     The first competitive hockey match played in the United
States was a contest between Hopkins and Yale in Baltimore on
Feb. 1, 1896. It was a stubborn and hard fought duel that ended
in a 2-2 tie.

     Long before hockey was considered a mainstay in American
professional sports, it was a game enjoyed by relatively few
enthusiasts in Canada during the 1870s. It was called shinny on
ice, and the players used curved sticks to slap a rubber ball.
Over the next decade its popularity grew as formal rules and
teams were established. In 1893 Lord Stanley, the governor
general of Canada, donated, to the best amateur team, the Stanley
Cup--now North America's oldest professional sports trophy.

     By the early 1890s interest in hockey had spread to Canada's
southern neighbor, and amateur squads were springing up in the
eastern cities. During this time, Baltimore featured several
scrimmage teams, including the Baltimore Athletic Club, the
Maryland Bicycle Club, the Ariel Rowing Club and the Johns
Hopkins University team. 

     The university's 1895-96 team was a mix of 11 dedicated
graduate students and undergrads, representing all university
divisions, a common practice back then.The university was small,
and since graduate students outnumbered the undergrads 3 to 1,
this university-wide camaraderie was born out of necessity.

     Samuel Alfred Mitchell, an astronomy graduate student, was
team captain and played second defense. G. B. Scholl, a
second-year undergraduate, played goal in addition to serving as
the team manager and treasurer.

     The 1896 Hopkins student was just as  academically committed
as his 1996 counterpart, and the hockey players lamented the
rigorous, early practice hours. The team members practiced at the
now dismantled Northwestern Rink at the corner of Charles Street
and North Avenue. The players could be seen at the rink at 7 a.m.
two or three days a week, and after attending classes and
studying, they would return at 10:30 p.m. for another 90 minutes
of practice.

     Besides the rigorous practice schedule, the students also
had a beef with what they perceived as a negative attitude on the
part of the press.

     "Another thing which should be changed before another season
is the attitude of the press towards the Hopkins team," read the
1896 yearbook, Hullabaloo. "Let us see that Hopkins receives fair
treatment by the press, both when playing against local teams and
teams from a distance."

     Over the next three seasons, Hopkins went on to compete
against several local club teams and squared off with other
eastern colleges, including Yale, Northampton, the University of
Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania on its way to
finishing with a 9-16-8 win-loss-tie record.

     The team disbanded at the end of the 1897-98 academic year,
citing transportation problems, disagreements between the rink
management and the teams, and the lack of student support as the
main causes. Indeed, the absence of student enthusiasm was a
particularly sore point according to the 1898 Hullabaloo.

     "[It was not] very encouraging to the team to have to use
opera glasses to find the Hopkins 'rooters,' for the number of
rooters was often so small that they were almost invisible to the
naked eye. There is no excuse for this lack of interest among the

     There was a 90-year hiatus before competitive ice hockey
would pick up again at Hopkins. But today, hockey players at
Hopkins satisfy their interest in the sport by playing for the
university's club team. Peyton Ferrier, a junior studying
economics, heads the squad.

     "The team in its current incarnation came about in 1987,"
Ferrier says. "We compete in the Mason-Dixon League which
consists of other club teams in the mid-Atlantic region."

     True to Hopkins athletic tradition, the team performs quite
well even though it is not supported by vigorous recruiting. Last
year the Blue Jays won the league's Southern Division and lost in
the finals to Bucknell.

     It is fitting that on Feb. 1, the 100th anniversary of the
sport, Hopkins plays the team that Ferrier refers to as their
"arch-rivals," when they face off against UMBC at Mt. Pleasant
Ice Arena at the corner of Northern Parkway and Helen Road.

     Ferrier says he hopes to see a lot of Hopkins fans at the
rink. After all, there's no place for opera glasses when the ice
shavings begin to fly.

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