- From 2005, the Illini Roller Hockey Club (IRHC) is a competitive hockey team that participates in the Great Plains Collegiate In-line Hockey League (GPCIHL), a region of the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association. For more information on the leagues, please visit their respective websites at www.greatplainshockey.com and www.ncrha.org. The IRHC has a team in both Division I and the B division of the GPCIHL.
History of IRHC:
The Humble Beginnings Of The Illini Roller Hockey Club
- By the fall of 1993, two members of the Sigma Pi Fraternity, Brian Kroening and Peter Poczatek, had chartered a registered student organization (RSO) for organizing people who were caught up in the rollerblading fad. This RSO made it possible to get large groups together to go on long distance skates around the twin cities, and to play quad tag at night (even though campus security frowned upon this) – and then there were the hockey players. Of this group, some people had been sucked into the fad and were new to the game, while others had hockey backgrounds and just wanted to play whether on ice or the street. The new RSO made it easy to get large pickup games going and more importantly, their contact information was available to anyone.
Early that November a representative of the Purdue Roller Hockey Team found Brian’s phone number via the RSO office and asked if he had a hockey team, and if so, whether he would host them for some Saturday afternoon games. Two weeks later during the Saturday before Thanksgiving 1993, Purdue showed up with two squads, full uniforms, and a coach. Up until this point the Illini were just a bunch of guys playing pick-up. Needless to say, they weren’t as well organized. They hosted this game (which unknown to them would become the Illini Roller Hockey Club’s (IRHC) inaugural game) in the southeast parking lot of Assembly Hall, which is the worst of the four lots because it has the largest slope. They were relegated to this location because all the other lots were full. Moreover, their matching uniforms consisted of t-shirts that were all white, they had no coach, and their nets were garbage cans. To top it off, the fresh smell of cow manure was blowing in from the south farms. They ended up losing both games, and only remember scoring one or two goals thanks to the feisty freshman, Mike Voigt. Purdue may have felt like they wasted their Saturday afternoon, but for Illinois , the IRHC was born.
The next semester David Wohlert, one of the participants of the inaugural game, created an RSO just for roller hockey, the IRHC. In January, the same group of guys from the November game drove out to Purdue for a tournament with other Midwest teams. This time they had matching jerseys. In fact, they had the best jerseys, but this didn’t help their performance. It would still take a few tournaments before they could compete with some of the teams that had already been around for a while. But the wheel was rolling and they soon started recruiting new members. In fact, their first “recruit” was John Fritz (yes, the infamously prepubescent looking, John Fritz). From there, roller hockey became a club sport at the University and the IRHC entered the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey League (MCRHL) as a charter member.
- By Dave Wohlert: IRHC Founder -