The first year ACU club hockey started, the team took home the gold at Nationals. Now, 11 years later, it hopes to make it to the top again.
Assistant captain Heath Bracken has high hopes for this year.
“I’m super pumped. We have a pretty good chance of making playoffs,” Bracken said.
ACU will face teams including the University of Texas Arlington, Stephen F. Austin, University of Texas at Dallas, University of New Orleans, Louisiana Tech, Texas State University, Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University.
“I’m nervous to play OU and OSU because they’re two big schools,” Bracken said. “They’re new to Division II, and I wish they’d destroy every team and move back up to Division I.”
ACU plays the University of North Texas’s second team on Oct. 8 for the season opener. The first tournament is in Denton on Oct. 29. The team then travels to its second tournament in Houston on Nov. 5.
Bracken said the team doesn’t have an official rink, so the first practice will take place at Cal Young Park this weekend.
However, the team has run into trouble scheduling practice at the park’s rink. Bracken said USA Hockey, the insurance company through which ACU hockey registers, now only focuses on ice hockey. The USA Roller Sports Association has run into problems with its guidelines and the city of Abilene. As such, the club is only allowed to practice during the day on weekends.
The club added seven new players who played ice hockey in high school. Bracken said when ice hockey players transition to inline hockey, also known as roller hockey, they’re usually good athletes and get physical in the rink.
Last season, Jonathan Spencer led the team with 12 assists while Patrick Dumas led in points. Spencer totaled his 100th point against Texas Tech. The senior captain said ACU missed playoffs by one point.
“Our goal this year is to win the Division II championship and go to Nationals,” Spencer said.
ACU club hockey is advertised in chapel, the Student Fair, and on myacu.edu. The team hopes to interest people and get them involved. Spencer also reserved the Campus Center living room on certain Monday and Tuesday nights for people to hang out and watch hockey games on the big screen. The first game will take place Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m.