Ice Bears Moving To Division 1 in 2015-16 Season

12/01/14 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - Missouri State University Ice Hockey Club announced Nov. 30 the Ice Bears American Collegiate Hockey Association Div. 2 team will be moving to the ACHA Div. 1 classification pending formal and expected ACHA approval to start play in the 2015-16 season.

The Ice Bears began the hockey program in the 2001-02 season competing at the ACHA Div. 3 classification. After the first two Ice Bears seasons the team moved from the ACHA Div. 3 classification to the ACHA Div. 2 classification to start the 2003-04 season. The Ice Bears have competed at the Div. 2 level for the past 12 seasons including the current 2014-15 season.

The Ice Bears have competed in seven ACHA Central Region postseason tournaments and competed in their first ACHA Div. 2 National Championship Tournament in the 2013-14 season finishing rakned No. 6 out of the over 200 ACHA Div. 2 teams in the United States.

The Ice Bears joined the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association league (MACHA) in the “Gold Division” in the 2004-05 season and have competed in the MACHA Gold Div. League for ACHA Div. 2 teams for the past 11 seasons including the 2014-15 season winning three league championship tournaments including the 2013-14 season championship tournament.

Ice Bears head coach Bob Bucher feels the timing is right for the Ice Bears to make the move to ACHA Div. 1 next season.

"We have achieved major success at the ACHA Div. 2 level in past seasons and our players, coaches and team staff are ready for the challenge of moving to a higher level of competition in the American Collegiate Hockey Association," Bucher said. "We can continue to grow the skill levels of our players and the competitive level of our Ice Bears teams with the move to ACHA Div. 1.

Bucher said player recruiting has gone extremely well the past few seasons and "will only increase in success with our move to ACHA Div. 1."

The Ice Bears have been very successful in attracting players from the top tier Junior’s teams in the St. Louis area in the past and adding new recruits from the Junior A Tier 2 teams level, Bucher said.

"I feel that type of recruiting as well as recruiting select foreign born players will be a major focus as we move up to the ACHA Div. 1 level of competition.” he said. “We have among the best fans and crowd numbers in ACHA hockey and we look forward to bringing them the most exciting and best competition available in the ACHA with this move to ACHA Div. 1”.

The Missouri State University Hockey Club staff, coaches and players have throughout club history been very proud to represent an outstanding educational institution like Missouri State University in the sport of collegiate hockey.

Missouri State University has a very strong and continuously growing reputation along with high academic standards and achievements in the State of Missouri and throughout the country. The University also continues to grow their enrollment in foreign students seeking a top quality education as well.

“Our Ice Bears teams and overall Missouri State Hockey Club program are very proud of our strong relationship with the Missouri State University administration, faculty, student organizations and student body,” Bucher said. “The University status and our relationship with the University is just another major factor in making the decision that the time is right for our move to ACHA Div. 1 collegiate hockey competition.”

The Ice Bears will be competing with a current total for the 2014-15 season of 54 teams in ACHA Div. 1 and any potential new ACHA Div. 1 teams that start up for the 2015-16 season.

The Ice Bears organization is in discussion at this time about the possibility of joining the ACHA Div. 1 Western Collegiate Hockey League (WCHL) – a current six member league that includes University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, Colorado State University and University of Colorado.

“We feel at the present time the WCHL ACHA Div. 1 league will be a good fit for our Ice Bears team and our fans and the league will be very competitive” Bucher said. “Of course we will certainly be playing other regional area ACHA Div. 1 teams such as Iowa State University, University of Illinois and Lindenwood University along with other ACHA Div. 2 regional area teams that are considering the move up to ACHA Div. 1 in the 15-16 season.”

Plans to move the current American Collegiate Hockey Association Div. 3 team (Jr. Varsity) up to the ACHA Div. 2 level will be determined pending a decision from the Ice Bears Div. 3 player board. Until a determination is made, they will continue competing at the Div. 3 level and in the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey League (MACHA) Silver Division.

“Although we feel it is very important for our Ice Bears players development to make the move up with our ACHA Div. 3 (Jr. Varsity) team at the same time we move our ACHA Div. 2 team up to ACHA Div. 1, the players will make the ultimate decision,” Bucher said. “Our goal is to continue to recruit top quality players to our Missouri State Hockey Club program.”

WebSportsRadio.Com will continue to carry a large number of regular and post season games when the Ice Bears team makes the move to ACHA Div. 1 with Steve Casson doing play-by-play on WebSportsRadio.com. In addition, a significant number of Ice Bears Div. 1 team games will also be carried on KBFL-FM 99.9.

The “Ice Bears Coaches Show” will also continue to be carried after every Saturday night home game at 10:30pm on Jock 98.7 and WebSportsRadio.com.

For more information on the Ice Bears’ current 2014-15 season, visit: www.missouristatehockey.com.

For information, contact: Head Coach Bob Bucher, (314) 239-6143 or General Manager Stan Melton, (417) 887-9762.