Northern Arizona D-II club gaining momentum, playoffs on tap
Northern Arizona University’s ACHA Division II team saw its 11-game unbeaten streak end recently at the hands of Arizona State’s ACHA Division I team, but the IceJacks still enjoyed a prolific regular season.
NAU (25-7-1) also had a 10-game losing streak before they lost to the Sun Devils.
The Ice Jacks only lost two games to teams from their division.
“I think we came together as a team and just played hard together and that’s why we got the results that we did,” said NAU director of hockey operations A.J. Fairchild. “Even against ASU D-I, we played well against them.”
During the win streak, NAU also got revenge against UNLV. The Skatin’ Rebels ended NAU’s season by knocking them out of the West Region tournament and handed the short-handed Ice Jacks their only Division II losses.
After losing in Sin City to UNLV in early December, 6-5 and 4-2, NAU beat the Skatin’ Rebels 6-3 and 6-5 at home in early February.
“It was great; we’ve been looking forward to them all year,” Fairchild said. “We had injuries before we played them up in Las Vegas. We had five kids hurt from the Weber State game, so we came in short-handed against them in Las Vegas, but we still lost a couple close games, so we felt like with us having a full team and everybody back healthy, that we would beat them.”
Also during the win streak, NAU enjoyed a successful stint at Prescott Valley Event Center, sweeping both the in-state rivals they faced, beating Grand Canyon 10-0 and 5-2 and ASU’s Division II team 5-1 and 2-1.
“It was good,” Fairchild said. “We had good crowds for ASU and for Grand Canyon University and we hope to continue those games going up there in the future.”
Fairchild likes NAU’s chances in the postseason and said they will spend more time in practice on coming together as a team.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Fairchild said.
— James Kelley