GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - It is hard to find a more passionate fan base than Pirate Nation. From football in the fall, to basketball in the winter, and then baseball in the spring, ECU fans across the state bleed purple and gold year round. They pride themselves on that relentless passion.
But did you know that ECU is also home to a club ice hockey team? The sport is very much present in Eastern North Carolina, and it is here to stay.
Hockey isn't all that popular in the East.
"When I came down here, I barely even knew ECU, I didn't even know they had hockey my freshman year," said senior captain Nick Digiovannantonio.
But since 2004, the ECU Club Ice Hockey team has been creating some serious buzz.
"We've been really growing the sport of hockey here in Greenville," said second-year head coach Aaron Coleman. "It's taken awhile."
The Pirates are 9-2-1 this season and the local community is finally taking notice.
"It's just a sport that people like to come out and watch on Friday night and Saturday evening," Digiovannantonio added.
"People say, 'You have a hockey team?' And then we tell them to come to the game, and they all show up," said freshman Cam Gross. "I think they love it down here."
And they also love the intimate atmosphere inside Greenville's only ice rink, The Carolina Ice Zone.
"It's a really tight scenario, which is nice because every loud chirp and every fan cheering and clapping you, can hear it," said Coleman. "So the more people we can get in here the better. We love packing the place."
This team is a lot of fun both on and off the ice. They are a team worth supporting.
"We have phenomenal support from Pirate Nation as it is, but we really want to reach out to the depths of that program, that community, that group and get everybody out here to support these guys," Coleman added.
And although ECU does support its club sports teams, money can often become a burden come playoff time. So, the boys are getting help from some big time names who cover the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I'm a season-ticket holder for the Hurricanes," said Gross. "So I know Mike Maniscalco and Sara Civian. "I follow them on social media, and to see them retweet it [our support page] was huge. You never know what that can do for a program like us."
If you would like to support the ECU Club Ice Hockey team, you can visit their GoFundMe page by clicking here.