General Manager Tom Billeter was not playing around when he told the SRJC Hockey team that he had big plans for the upcoming 2017-18 season. And nothing is bigger than the newest set of games to hit the Polar Bears’ official fall schedule.
SRJC will head to Minnesota Sept. 28 to Oct.1 for arguably the organization’s biggest road trip in its history. While the Polar Bears have embarked on several huge trips to Southern California, Boise, Washington and Oregon, Omaha and Iowa, this trip pits SRJC against four teams in as many days. It will play American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II clubs from universities that have Division I NCAA hockey teams.
The trip is scheduled only one week after their opening season game against UC Berkeley on Sept. 23 at Snoopy’s Home Ice. They’ll face the University of St. Thomas (9/28), Minnesota State University, Mankato (9/29), the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (9/30) and St. Cloud State University (10/1). Most games are expected to take place in the DI NCAA hockey arenas.
All four of the teams are also members of the Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association (WCCHA), a subdivision of the ACHA that is similar to the Polar Bears’ own Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association. Minnesota State University, Mankato is the current champion of the WCCHA, and is the only team out of the four that is currently ranked within the ACHA. Mankato ended the year as No. 12 in the Central Region.
This road trip is without a doubt the biggest draw to SRJC’s 2017-18 season. After a less than ideal end to the previous year, not only will this trip help solidify SRJC’s spot as a legitimate DII team but it will help strengthen the commitment and camaraderie amongst players.
“It's definitely huge for the program if we can prove to be a good match for Division I feeder teams; it means we can hold our own as small of a club as we are we can gain some support and notoriety if all goes in our favor,” said now-sophomore goaltender Matthew Colgrove. “It's going to be an exciting journey and definitely an anticipated change of scenery. It may wake up some people in the program because it [the trip] requires all attention and dedication to make it work.”
Exact details are still being finalized for this trip and will be available closer to the start of the new season.