It’s a title that most club hockey coaches and players don’t like to use. It gives off the idea that the hockey quality is less, as is the competition level.
“Why would you want to play ‘club’ hockey?”
Pete Majkozak asks: Why wouldn’t you?
“It’s great hockey,” said Majkozak, a White Bear Lake native who played four years of club hockey at Iowa State University in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. “I think people are surprised at how great it really is. The games are intense, the energy is there every night. It’s a lot more than people think it is sometimes.”
Majkozak made two state tournament appearances with the Bears while in high school. His dad played Division I at Boston University and he’s been good friends with Justin Braun since Mites; a Division I school was definitely on his hockey agenda.
“I went to juniors and struggled a little bit after high school,” said Majkozak, who played one season in the North American Hockey League.
“I realized that while the Division I option was closed, I loved hockey. I knew it was always going to be a part of my life so I wanted to keep playing.”
Majkozak visited several MIAC schools but after coming from a high school with a graduating class of more than 800, he wanted to keep that same big-school feel.
He had heard about the ACHA through a family friend and from his teammates in the NAHL. Once he visited campus and learned more about the Iowa State and ACHA program, he was sold.
“I saw the locker rooms, I saw the video and all of the marketing materials and I was just really impressed with how well-run the organization was and the amount of games, the trips, all of it,” said Majkozak who played in two All-Star games and amassed 177 points in his four-year collegiate career. “It’s all run just like you’re a college-athlete at a Division I, II or III school. You practice four times per week at 3:30. You meet with your coach and academic counselor and you have games on the weekends.
“You’re treated like a normal NCAA athlete from every standpoint.”
One major difference between the ACHA and an NCAA Division I, II or III is finances. Scholarships are not awarded to players but the cost to play is not all theirs to bear. Many schools offer fundraising, selling and marketing options to help alleviate some of the financial cost for a player to join the team.
Majkozak was afforded other opportunities through the ACHA as well. He was selected to wear the USA crest in the World University Games in 2009. There he was noticed on an international stage and continued to play hockey professionally in Germany for a season after graduating with his bachelor's degree in accounting.
All of it made possible with "club hockey."
"I had some of the best experiences of my life and in my hockey career," said Majkozak. "I'm really proud to be an alum of the ACHA."