The Oregon Ducks hockey team is back in Bend, playing a pair of games against the Washington Huskies this weekend.
“When we get to travel around to, say, Medford or Bend and go beyond just Eugene, you feel how much the community supports this,” said University of Oregon senior Jordan Larrebee. “And like the Greater Oregon area, especially with the young kids, like you can see young kids everywhere, that’s the biggest thing you noticed from playing out here.”
The teams are playing at the Pavilion in Bend. The first game was Friday and a second is set for Saturday night — already sold-out. For Washington, playing on the High Desert is a first.
“I’ve been to Portland a couple of times but never really explored anything past that,” said the University of Washington senior Michael Zaychikov. “Hockey never brought me here. My other sports ever brought me here. So yeah, I’m getting down to, I guess, the nitty gritty and center of Oregon. It’s awesome.”
For some of the younger fans, it’s an experience they likely will remember. For some Oregon players, the annual event has allowed them to experience college hockey in Bend for two or three years now.
“That’s really fun to come out here and play outdoors,” said University of Oregon senior Roddy Peterson. “You know, I went to one of the only other rinks in Oregon near us, and it’s really fun. You get to meet the kids and, you know, interact with the community at that.”
This is a first for first-year Oregon head coach Jack Hymon, like his rival adversaries.
“It’s great. Oregon versus Washington, neighboring states, big rivals when it comes to the schools,” said Hyman. “What I heard last year, you know, sellout crowd playing outdoors where a lot of us sort of started playing hockey, especially those on the East Coast. You know, it makes it very, very fun to be a part of. And we’re fortunate that we’re able to do it every single year.”
Oregon won Friday’s game, 5-1.