IceJacks prepping for return to ACHA D-II national stage
After a heartbreaking end to last season, Northern Arizona University’s ACHA Division II team is reloading with an eye towards returning to the national tournament.
NAU coach Travis Johanson said he’s excited about the IceJacks’ recruiting class and about the returning players filling the big holes left by about 24 graduates in the last two years.
“It’s exciting; we got a lot of new recruits,” Johanson said. “We got some really interesting, highly talented recruits coming in and a team full of a lot of younger guys that they’re going to need to step up and try to take over veteran roles sooner than normal.”
Among the new IceJacks is a familiar face.
After three seasons with the Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, forward Rayce Miller is coming back to Arizona. Miller, who had 27 points in 39 games this past season and five in four playoff games, played for the Jr. Coyotes organization during his youth days.
“He’s a good kid and it will be good to get him back in Flagstaff to see how he’s progressed up there in Canada,” Johanson said.
NAU’s class will also add players from Washington and a pair from the Las Vegas Storm.
The IceJacks’ schedule will also be less punishing in 2016-17 as the IceJacks look to reclaim their usual spot at nationals. Johanson said the IceJacks will take to the road and play games in Utah on two occasions, Colorado once and Southern California once.
“We’ve got a great schedule,” Johanson said. “I’m excited about that, not having to travel to Utah four or five times like we did last year and Colorado twice. A lot less miles.”
— James Kelley