For the first time in its twelve-year history, Montclair State University’s Ice Hockey Team has earned a bid to the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) National Tournament to be held March 17 – 20 at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury, Connecticut. The Red Hawks defeated long-time Northeast Region rivals #4 seed Siena College and # 3 seed Marist College in their climb into the top ranks of the ACHA’s Division II, and now will participate in the Nationals as one of the top 16 teams in the nation.
“To put what an accomplishment this is into perspective, there are 187 teams in the ACHA Division II level,” explains Red Hawks associate head coach Rob Martinez. “Of those 187 teams, only 16 get invitations to the National Tournament and for the first time, Montclair State is one of them. Congratulations are in order to this extraordinary team, coaching staff, management staff, and fans.”
Before heading to Connecticut for the ACHA Nationals, the Red Hawks will be competing in the Super East Collegiate Hockey League (SECHL) finals to be held March 5 – 7 in the Albany County Hockey Facility in Albany, New York. The outcome there will not affect the standings in the ACHA tournament, but the Red Hawks will face some of the same teams they will face in Connecticut, so it promises to be a challenging contest.
Challenges, however, are nothing new to this year’s hockey team. Having lost some of their top players from the previous year to graduation, and beginning the year without any coaches, the team had a lot to overcome during the season. Director of Hockey Operations and Montclair State University Police Detective Tim Fox handled the task of finding the new coaching staff, and the new coaches, together with the input and hard work of the players, managed to turn what started out as a season in doubt, into a trip to the National Tournament.
Martinez gives much of credit for the program’s success to Fox. “We owe a lot to Tim Fox for all of his hard work in putting this together, without him none of this would have been possible,” he said.
Fox in turn credits the coaching staff comprised of Martinez, Head Coach Frank Barone, and Assistant Coaches Ryan Bourke and Christian Valvano along with the support of the University’s Department of Campus Recreation. Since the hockey team is a club, it falls under Campus Recreation’s purview. “Campus Recreation has been a huge part of our success,” he said. “From Director Romayne Eaker-Kelly and her entire staff, to all the fans—many of whom are from the Campus Rec Board—we could not have operated such a successful program without the tools and administrative support they provided.”
Congratulations are in order for all the players, coaches, and staff of the Montclair State Ice Hockey Team and the University community wishes them the best of luck in their upcoming tournaments!
Visit Montclair State Ice Hockey for all the latest news on the team.
View photos from the team’s recent victory over Marist College in the ACHA Regionals at SmugMug.