After 17 seasons competing at the ACHA Division III level, The University of Arkansas Men’s Hockey Club announced that the team would be moving to ACHA Division II starting in the 2024-25 season. With the move, Arkansas will move up within their conference from MACHA Silver to MACHA Gold.
During their time at Division III, Arkansas achieved tremendous success both at the conference and national level. The team amassed an SECHC record six conference titles from 2009 until 2019. In 2022, their first season of competition at MACHA Silver, they would claim their first MACHA conference title. On the national stage, the Hogs have qualified for the National Tournament 8 times, including an active streak of 4 dating back to 2020. The team would finish national runner up in 2021, and fall in the Frozen Four in 2022. Since its inception, the DIII program boasts a 370-111-12 record.
When asked about the move, Head Coach Keller Sims had this to say “I think this is a great step for our program. We have had tremendous success at the DIII level during our history. We looked at the growth of, not only our program, but the MACHA and ACHA as a whole and decided this was the right time and opportunity for us to make the move to the DII level.” Regarding the change in level of competition, Coach Sims added “Obviously it is going to be a big change as far as skill, speed, vision, etc. in players at the top of the DII level compared to DIII. I know we have players on our roster now who can make an impact and succeed at that level. We also know we have to go out and recruit and get players who can step in right away and make an impact. We know there will be growing pains, but we also don’t want to come in and then not be competitive our first few years either”.
Arkansas is slotted to join the ACHA DII Central Region. Unlike the Division III level which utilizes a national ranking, at DII the country is split into four regions, with regional rankings and tournaments held for each to determine the participants in the National Tournament. Within in the Central Region, Arkansas along with rival Missouri, will be advancing to the Gold Division within the MACHA (Mid-American Collegiate Hockey Conference). This division is currently made up of Bradley University, The University of Illinois, Illinois State, 2023 National Runner up University of Iowa, Maryville University, and SIUE.
Arkansas boasts a winning record in their history as a DIII program competing against DII schools. Since Coach Sims’ arrival in 2017-18 the team boasts a 16-2 record when competing against DII programs. Over the remainder of this season, Arkansas has games scheduled against DII Drury University (Home Feb 16, Away Feb 17th) and DII University of Texas (Home Feb 23rd-24th).
Arkansas returns to action at home January 19th (7:30 PM) and 20th (3:15 PM) as they host MACHA South rival Mizzou in a two game set. Tickets are available at the door for $5 and the game will also be broadcast on the teams youtube channel.