DePaul hockey to host Team Ireland


Ryan Gilroy | The DePaulia

DePaul winger Connor McNally (left) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Illinois in the second period on Friday.

Yes, this is actually happening.

Sometimes, a good connection can land you something new. But other times, they can lead to enormous opportunities.

Head Coach Danny Randall of DePaul University’s hockey team announced on Thursday that they’ll face off against Team Ireland, a spectacle that has never occurred in the history of the program and as a rare occurrence of DePaul’s athletics altogether.

Known collectively as “The Boys in Green,” Ireland will visit the city of Chicago for a showcase of their own to play in, but Randall wanted to see if their national team was willing to compete against the Blue Demons for a friendly match. 

“I was talking to some guys that I know in the Irish community, and they had mentioned that the Irish national team and their U-18 team was coming to Chicago to do a showcase,” he said. “I just kind of threw DePaul’s name out there that we’d be happy to play them – if that’s the kind of competition they’re looking for – they were extremely receptive to that idea and it kind of snowballed into actually becoming a reality.”

The Irish national team isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around longer than you think.

Joining the ranks of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) in 1996, the team made their international debut in 2004. The team stepped on the ice for their first game on March 16, 2004 at the Division III World Championships in Reykjavik, Iceland, where they lost 8-3 against Mexico. However, their last tournament appearance was in 2013, as they’ve been unable to meet the minimum standard of operating an indoor rink in their home country since.

According to their website, the team has not officially played since November 21, 2018. Their last game was against Principality of Andorra during the Development Cup in Fussen, Germany, where they finished second in the tournament overall and beat Andorra 8-7.

“This will be the first time they’ve come to the states and played a U.S. college team,” Randall said.

For the Blue Demons, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play an international team that may never occur in their lives again. And for the Irish, a matchup like this may not happen again for a while for The Boys in Green.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to get as much recognition within the school as possible, and I really saw this as an opportunity to help showcase the caliper of the team that we have at DePaul and how we can compete at a higher level,” he said.

Puck drop for the two teams will be at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13 at Fifth-Thirds Arena, home of the Chicago Blackhawks practice facility. Attendance is free and open to all DePaul students and fans alike.

“It’s gonna be an exciting game on both sides. I’m excited for it, and any opportunity I get to get behind the bench with those guys is an honor.”

DePaul’s hockey team finished their season with a 12-14-1 overall record and 5-9 in the Northern Collegiate Hockey League conference. Their late-season efforts punched them a ticket to the NCHL playoffs, but were defeated by the Concordia Falcons in the first round of the playoffs.