By: David Carter/GCU Staff
The 2019-2020 season will be a special one for GCU Men’s Ice Hockey.
First, it will be their inaugural season playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I (DI) level – the highest in the ACHA.
“We want to show what we have at GCU,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Danny Roy. “We have had a plan set in motion from the beginning. Now that we are officially here, our goal is to show that we belong.”
Second? Less is more.
“Last season, we had 33 regular season game for the Division II (DII) team,” said Roy. “This year, DI has 27 games and DII has 25. The benefit of having a few less games is that it gives our players and staff a couple of free weekends during the season – allowing for some rest time and helps keeps us fresh throughout the course of the season.”
Joining a conference in 2020 will be an important stepping stone for the Lopes in establishing themselves on the Division 1 level. For now, though, the goal for Year 1 is to reach nationals, since they are eligible to go this year as an independent if they’re ranked among the top 18 schools at the end of the regular season. There are no regional tournaments in Division 1.
“Each season, we have been able to add some DI games into our schedule in preparation for our move up,” said Roy. “Now, we will be able to play four games against UNLV, go up to North Dakota to play 2019 ACHA DI Champion Minot State, and even make a trip out to Colorado to play (the University of) Colorado. It is a competitive schedule, but is also a good builder for 2020 when we can officially join a conference.”
While the DI team enters its first season of play at that level, the DII team has established itself as a successful program already – reaching the ACHA West Regionals each of the last two seasons.
“I think we have kept the schedule high enough to where we can still make postseason play,” said Roy. “There is a lot of rivalry games in there with ASU and NAU. The mindset is to go out there and prove ourselves.”
The DII team will also enjoy their fair share of road games, traveling to California, Texas and Colorado.
Be sure to visit the GCU Men’s Ice Hockey page for the full 2019-2020 schedule.
On another note, the Lopes DI team are hoping to play a pair of feature games against University of Arizona (U of A) and Arizona State University (ASU) for this upcoming season at Gila River Arena in Glendale (the home of the Arizona Coyotes). The two proposed Lopes’ games to be played in Glendale would be against U of A on Saturday, October 26 at 6:30 pm, and against ASU on Saturday, February 8 at 6:30 pm. Team officials are still working to secure the venue within the next couple of months.
The Lopes are also holding a Coyotes Alumni game on Saturday, December 7 at 6:30 pm at the Lopes’ home ice of AZ Ice Arcadia. The game would pit Lopes’ players against Coyotes’ alumni to help raise money for GCU Ice Hockey.