Club sports and their athletes may not always get the recognition they deserve.
Students do not wait in lines to get into club hockey games at the University of Rhode Island, which have little attendance within the greater student body. Â The university also does not offer much press for the team. Â Game reminders are not written in chalk on the quadrangle, and besides those on the team, students do not often wear URI hockey apparel.
But the team is making a good case for why they should. Â The team is currently ranked No. 11 in the country for Division I club hockey and has an opportunity to win 30 games this season. Â Hockey is one of the University’s strongest programs and it has been for a while now. It will continue to be as head coach Joe Augustine and his crew are able to convince good high school hockey players to choose URI over varsity programs.
Two newcomers, Ray Boudiette and Matt Armenti, who are responsible for much of the team’s success this year, could have chosen to play NCAA Division III teams.
Boudiette is a sophomore forward in his first season for the Rams, after transferring from Northeastern University last year. Â He has team-highs with 19 goals and 37 points on the season (top-50 in the country), along with 18 assists.
“He’s probably our most consistent forward,” Armenti said. Â “He’s a smart player with good hockey IQ. Â He’s a very gifted player offensively and has a knack for scoring.”
Boudiette didn’t play at Northeastern University, from which he transferred, but visited the URI campus last year and liked it enough to jump ship from the Huskies. Â Now, he chooses to pay to play.
Armenti is a freshman from New Jersey, who is leading the team with 24 assists and is fifth on the squad with 31 points.
“I’m just trying to fit in the best I can,” Armenti said. Â “As a defenseman I try to get my defense going first, then my offense.”
He played junior hockey for several years with the New Jersey Titans. Â There, he was second on the team in points and third in goals and assists. Â Armenti could have gone on to play NCAA hockey, but chose URI at the club level instead.
“Chris Rigamonti, the team’s general manager, couldn’t have been nicer to me,” Armenti said. Â “When I visited, I loved it. Â I didn’t want to play D-III. Â In our group of guys, 90 percent of them could have played Division III.”
According to the two of them, Division III hockey programs recruit heavier, play a little higher pace, and are a little bigger.
Many players choose Rhode Island for academic purposes, though. Â But they also beat division three teams this year, including Assumption College and Daniel Webster College. Â They have to pay to play, but they get the opportunity to play for a successful program and for head coach Augustine, who is has accumulated over 500 career wins and 25 consecutive winning seasons.
“The goal is to win nationals,” Boudiette said. Â “Qualifying for nationals would be great. Â We’re just taking it one game at a time. Hopefully we can make a run.”