Mission Statement: ACHA college puck is top quality, not ‘just club hockey’
In sticking with the theme of being back involved with the University of Arizona, I want to use this article to help educate folks on what the uneducated like to call ” just club hockey.”
Make no mistake, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) is high-level college hockey with a variation in levels and over 500 options across the United States.
Recruiting, rivalries, fans. Yep, it’s college hockey alright.
I have had the privilege of playing and coaching in this league for the better part of 13 seasons, and it is frustrating to me that parents and kids have absolutely no clue of this level of play.
My experience at U of A, playing in front of 5500 fans a night in a college town with playing against the likes of Arizona State University and Ohio University and national rankings at stake – every game was simply and truly unreal.
The reality of our town is that only a handful of kids will have the opportunity to play NCAA Division I hockey, and the other 96 percent have to wake up and realize that in state, we now have four ACHA programs to offer – in-state tuition and a great level of hockey, especially at the ACHA D-I level.
I see it firsthand every year with players I coached who went off and had a successful run in junior hockey. They are faced with the option of playing NCAA D-III for a school of 2500 students for $25,000 a semester or come home, play a level that is as good, if not better, and play for major universities and in-state tuition.
It’s a no-brainer and for years, this has been the path of so many kids.
Half the time after a player says he plays NCAA D-III, for example, at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, the very next question will be, “Where is that?”
Personally, I would rather have a big college experience with a big college degree in a job interview.
The ACHA league consists of three levels D-I, D-II and D-III and now, a well-established women’s league as well.
When I was coaching for ASU, we went head to head with NCAA D-III schools all the time. Folks really need to get an understanding of how many options in state players really have.
I, of course, am proud to have been a part of both ASU and U of A, and take pride that so many of my ex-players now represent all four major schools. There is nothing better than playing college hockey for a major school.
I have been an ambassador for this league for 20 years, and will tell you how special my experiences have been being a part of it.
Do yourself a favor – the next time ASU travels to Tucson to play U of A in the Convention Center, make the drive. I am pretty sure your player will walk away from that night pretty excited about the prospect of one day being good enough to hopefully play “just club hockey.”
Jeremy Goltz is the director of hockey operations for Mission Arizona.