While attending Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1995 through 1997, I played a lot of hockey for the Salukis...I mean a lot of hockey. When I first arrived on campus in 1995, I noticed that there were always pickup hockey games going on at some old tennis courts. So during my next trip home, I brought my equipment, went down to the courts and asked if I could play. They said sure...and that was that. A few weeks into the semester they had roller hockey intramural signups...so I signed up.
Most of the intramural roller hockey was played on the converted tennis courts on Wall St. by overnight parking behind the towers. We'd often have two or three games a week and we played almost year round, except for a couple months in the winter because of snow and whatnot. It was a lot of fun and I made a lot of friends.
I was asked if I wanted to play and travel with the SIUC Roller Hockey Club team. My cousin Jeff, who also attended SIUC at the time, was also asked to play (because we were both awesome) and we both decided to travel a couple times with the team to a couple tournaments.
At the time, the Salukis played in the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey League. The first tournament Jeff and I attended was at Purdue, where teams from Michigan St., Missouri-Rolla, Ball St., University of Illinois, and a few other schools were also participating. We did ok in the tournament. I think we won a couple games and we lost a couple. Nothing groundbreaking. I remember before our game against Purdue, I was told that we had never beaten them...ever. And I found out why...they were good...and they whooped us. But it was a fun trip. I have always worn the #12...always. When I was told to pick out a jersey when we got to the tournament, there was no #12. So I took #16...I figured, if I couldn't have Adam Oates, I'd take Brett Hull.
The second tournament we participated in, was at the University of Illinois. We faired a little better in this tournament. I remember netting a hat trick in one single shift one game...which was kinda cool. We played Purdue again in this tournament. I had two goals in that game and it was tied as we entered a shootout. I scored in the shootout and we ended up beating Purdue for the first time in school history...so that was a cool thing to be a part of. Beating Purdue put is into the championship game against Missouri-Rolla, whom we had beaten earlier in the tournament. But we ended up losing to them in a close game, so we finished 2nd.
The odd thing about the MWCRHL, was they didn't require that the players wear helmets. The even odder thing about it, was that I chose not to wear one. Not sure what I was thinking. I wore a bandana instead...dumb. I guess you have to take into consideration that this was in the early days of college club roller hockey. I'm sure they require cages now. But the lack of a cage and helmet may explain why I did so well at the U of I tournament. I find it MUCH easier to see the rink and puck without a cage and a helmet. I was the 2nd leading scorer on the team behind Dan Dressel, who led the entire tournament in scoring. But I don't think I ever played without a helmet again.
When Jeff and I played for the Salukis, we had a pretty good team. I had heard that a couple years after we left, they lost a lot of players and pretty much started to suck. They even dropped out of the league for a year or two, but rejoined the league later.