Sault College Cougars have continued right where they left off last spring when they defeated Grand Valley State in Dallas in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Finals 12-3. Despite moving up to ACHA Division 2 from Division 3, the Cougars remain undefeated at 6-0 this season with two wins each over Miami of Ohio University, Trine University and Adrian College respectively. We’re excited to announce that we are taking on a new challenge and facing off against ACHA Division 1 team: The University of West Virginia Mountaineers. The two hockey powerhouses will tangle mid-season when they play in the 1st Annual Winter Classic at the Rankin Arena on February 15th at 7:30 p.m.
The Winter Classic is not a new idea by any means but it is a fresh concept for Sault College to promote and highlight its men’s hockey program. “I had seen this done at other universities in indoor settings and I decided that this was the best way to showcase the incredible talent that exists on the Sault College hockey team and the program itself while at the same time enhancing the overall student experience at Sault College,” says Paul Orazietti, Manager of Athletics, Sault College.
The Cougars set out to find the most competitive Division 1 program that they could and the University of West Virginia Mountaineers answered the call. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have such a major hockey program coming to Sault Ste. Marie to play our largely Sault Ontario based team. I think local hockey fans will really be amazed at the caliber of hockey they will be treated to,” continued Orazietti.
Mountaineers Head Coach Shane Buckley had this to say about the mid-winter tilt, “we’re looking forward to making the trip up to the Soo. What Coach Hall, Mark Hebert and everyone involved with the program have built in such a short amount of time is remarkable, and we know that we’re going to have a tough test that weekend. It’s hard to find a better way to learn and grow as a team than playing a defending National Champion in their rink on foreign soil. The Soo is a fantastic hockey town, and I’m excited for our guys to experience it first-hand.”
This will mark the first time that major NCAA University (student population 35,000) has ever ventured this far north to play a sport of any kind in Sault Ste. Marie. The Cougars, however, led by coach Mike Hall and GM Mark Hebert, are no strangers to firsts. They won Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario’s first ever post-secondary National Championship in Dallas this past season. They are the first Canadian men’s team to play in the ACHA: a league that boasts 279 Colleges and Universities from around the United States, and they are the only post-secondary institution in Ontario to offer this type of College hockey experience. Cougars Head Coach Mike Hall stated, “it’s an exciting time for the Sault College Cougars to have the opportunity to play the University of West Virginia Division 1 team. We appreciate the effort of their team to make the long trek to Sault Ste. Marie. It should be some exciting hockey for our families and fans to watch.”
Tickets are on sale for only $8.00 per ticket. Get yours early before they sell out! Tickets can be purchased by visiting Sault College Athletics or by calling 705.759.2554 ext 2709.