The bird is the word: OU hockey eyes playoffs


The Division I hockey club celebrates a goal from earlier this season. The team is looking to capitalize on the momentum of claiming the Good Luck Duck trophy as they near the playoffs.

Championship season is fast approaching for Oakland University’s Division I club hockey team.

So far, the 2013-14 season has been one of ups and downs for the Golden Grizzlies. The club (19-13 overall) has been strong in the second half of the season.

Gordie Schaeffler, in his first season as head coach, said the Grizzlies are a “young team, there were some growing pains, but the second half has really come together.”

Oakland’s season has featured trips out to North Dakota to battle Minot State — OU won both games — and the Grizzlies played a home and home series with Kent State. Liberty University visited for two games at the Onyx Arena in Rochester Hills.


Good luck duck

Last Friday night, at the Onyx, Oakland clinched the legendary “Good Luck Duck” after its third victory of the season over longtime rival Davenport University.

The rivalry stems back years when the 70-pound cement duck was property of the Oakland hockey team, but some Davenport players, rumored to be transfers from OU, stole the duck. 

And thus the legend of the Good Luck Duck was born.


A rivalry renewed

Coach Schaeffler said the rivalry shared between Oakland and Davenport rivals that of Michigan State and Michigan. 

Every year the winner of the season series earns the rights to the duck, which is said to bring good luck to the team that possesses it.

The luck is real, apparently. For several years, the duck was a part of every national championship game since the rivalry beginning.

Oakland followed up Friday night’s victory over Davenport with a shootout victory on Saturday on Davenport’s home ice, 4-3, in Grand Rapids.


A winning philosophy

With the playoffs quickly approaching, the Good Luck Duck has been a good confidence booster for the Grizzlies, who definitely believe they are a contender. 

“We definitely have a good shot to make a run, we have what it takes to succeed like two years ago,” senior captain Frank Matyok said.

Matyok was referring to a 2012 season that had Oakland making it all the way to the ACHA National Championship, only to fall to Delaware.

Things are different now. Coach Jeremy Bachusz is gone, replaced by his longtime assistant Schaeffler. Matyok said the transition was quite smooth.

“They have their own philosophies but we still have a great locker room, we always say ‘we over me,’” he said.

 The Grizzlies have held their winning philosophy for a long time. Oakland won Division II national titles in 2004 and 2006, bookended around a championship loss in 2005.

The team made the transition to Division I in 2007 and also won the national championship that year. Since then, Oakland has regularly scheduled games against some of the best clubs in college club hockey, including Penn State and local powerhouses such as Grand Valley State University and Ohio University.

Some fans think OU should make hockey a varsity sport, something Schaeffler isn’t opposed to, if granted one amenity.

“Build us an ice rink,” he said.