Pat Tansey has a dream he's been nurturing since 1964, his freshman year at the University of Maryland.
"The first time I walked into Cole Field House," he said, "I could just picture the stands full - for hockey."
There was no hockey at College Park then and there is little now. But there has been some, played off and on at the club level since Tansey and some other Terp lacrosse players discovered they shared hockey experience and decided to form a team.
They consulted the foreign student directory ofor prospects from hockey-playing countries and came up with a motley crew.
"One guy broke his leg playing with figure skates," Tansey said. "One of our early goalies," Dean Corson, played with newspapers protecting his shins."
Tansey has been connected with the Terrapin club hockey team most of the way, playing against other area college club teams and later, using grduate students and alumni, competing in the Chesapeake Hockey League.
Now the team is all undergraduates, with Tansey donating his off hour from his job with Sears to be coach/manager. Finally, there are hints from the South that his dream might be realized.
At Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina and North Carolina Skate people are working to make ice hockey an Atlantic Coast Conference varsity sport.
With the Unversity of Virginia, Georgia Tech and Tennessee, they are winding up a successful club season that will conclude with an ACC Ice Hockey Association tournament at the Greensboro, N.C., Triad Arena March 4-5. Not coincidentally the tournament will be played at the same time as the ACC basketball tournment at the Greensboro Coliseum only eight miles away.
Association president Lloyd Scher, a 1976 graduae of the University of North Carolina, hopes to get hockey on the agenda of an upcoming ACC atheletic directors' meeting.
With the dissolution of the Southern Hockey League, "We're the only show in town," Scher said. "We're got the fans." Games at Triad and Atlanta's Omni have been turning profits of $800 to $1,000 per game at $2 for adults and $1 for children.
The North Carolina schools are travel to Greensboro for their practices, a round trip of 120 miles for N.C. State.
A Big Four Tournament in January, won by Duke, drew 2,400 fans. Duke, with a majority of players from the North, has been the state power, but a game between North Carolina and Wake Forest drew more than 1,700 fans, "more than the pros have been doing," according to Scher.
Besides pressuring their schools to put hockey into the formal sports programs, Scher and company have put on a letter-writing campaign urging the state legislature to underwrite an arena in the Raleigh-Chapel Hill-Winston-Salem triangle, which would serve all three schools.
The University of Virginia recently purchased a rink in Charlottesville, which cranks the Gavaliers into Scher's plans. The next step would be to add Maryland. Clemson has shown little interest, so Georgia Tech is being eyed as the seventh team in proposed league.
Tennessee, South Carolina, Davidson and Virginia Tech are also possibilities, but Scher leans toward those school forming a separate division.
There has been off-again on-again interest in building a rink at Maryland, according to Don Blalock, whose Rink Design Consultants firm has worked on many Washington-area facilities. Meanwhile, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commisssion is building one on Calvert Road in Riverdale.
The Maryland club has yet to play a game this season, although it has scrimmaged the Naval Academy club team. Plans to play the north Carolina Tarpucks (honest, that's their nick-name) at Capital Centre have run into a scheduling snage, although Centre officials are sympathetic.
"The ACC is a natural," said Andy Dolich. "If hockey turns out to be one-tenth as good as basketball, in five or 10 years it'll be something. Maryland versus North Carolina, no matter what they meet in - pogo sticks, jumping jacks - somebody is going to come out and see it."