FAYETTEVILLE, AR — The University of Arkansas Men’s Ice Hockey Club today announced its 2017-18 schedule for the team’s 11th season in the American Collegiate Hockey Association and third at Division I. The schedule features a fan-friendly home slate of 19 weekend games at The Jones Center for Families in Springdale.
The Razorbacks are looking forward to this year’s campaign and look to improve on last seasons’ second Western Collegiate Hockey League campaign, which saw the team finish last during a challenging rebuilding 39 game season. This year, the schedule features a 36 game regular season starting in September.
SEPTEMBER – OPENERS ON THE ROAD
The Razorbacks will begin their season on the road, unlike last year’s five consecutive home game openers. The first puck drop of the season will be in Normal, IL, as the Hogs face off against Illinois State on September 8. Last season, the team split a two-game series at Illinois State, with a 5-2 win and a 5-3 loss.
From September 22-23, the Hogs will travel to Pelham, AL, to challenge their archrival, the University of Alabama, who are also entering their third year of Division I play. These two teams will meet again on the Hogs’ home ice in November.
The following weekend, September 28-30, the team will take a trip to Oklahoma to play conference foes University of Oklahoma (OU) and the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). The UCO Bronchos outscored the Hogs in two games in February 2017 and then went on to claim their second ACHA DI National Championship over Ohio University in March.
OCTOBER – A BRIEF STOP AT HOME
After three weekends on the road, the Razorbacks will finally return home to the Jones Center on Thursday, October 5, to face off against the University of Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs, ranked third in the conference last season, are fresh off a trip to the National Tournament and three victories over the Hogs last season. Their traveling partner, Colorado State, will take the ice at the Jones Center on October 6 & 7.
After their meetings with the Buffs and the Rams, the Razorbacks will head to Gilbert, AZ, to challenge Arizona and Arizona State. Due to scheduling conflicts, all three games will be played in Gilbert rather than on home team ice. First, the Hogs will battle the Arizona State Sun Devils on October 12. The Sun Devils swept the Hogs in all three meetings last season. This will be only the second meeting between the two teams. The same can be said for another competitive WCHL team, the University of Arizona, who will play the Razorbacks on October 13 & 14 in Gilbert.
To wrap up the month of October, the Hogs will stop in Ames, IA, to battle Iowa State. This will be the first ever meeting between the Cyclones and the Razorbacks.
NOVEMBER – HOME SWEET HOME
In November, the Razorbacks enter a lengthy homestead that features 10 consecutive home games and the friendly atmosphere of a packed Jones Center. First up are UCO and OU for the inaugural WCHL home series of the season on November 2-4. Both teams prevailed over Arkansas when they last took the ice in Springdale.
The highlight of November will likely be the two-game series against Alabama on November 10-11. The Razorbacks have prevailed over the Crimson Tide every time they have met on Razorback ice—dating back to the 2009-10 season. At their last meeting in Springdale (November 2016), the Hogs won via an exciting 5-4 shootout victory. Historically, the Alabama series are hard-fought games energized by a large (and passionate) home crowd. Alabama went 19-14-2 last season—a program-best—so the Hogs expect another exhilarating match-up in November.
To wrap up November, Arizona and Arizona State come to visit the next weekend (November 16-18). Last season, Arizona and Arkansas played an exciting two-game home series featuring a 5-4 overtime shootout loss for the Hogs in night one followed by a 5-4 regulation win for Arkansas in the second game.
DECEMBER – CONFERENCE RIVALS IN TOWN
For the final games of the first semester, the Hogs will host WCHL and long-time rival Missouri State on December 1 & 2. When the Ice Bears last came to visit in February 2017, the Razorbacks split the series. Arkansas dropped the initial contest, but rallied from a 3-1 deficit to score four unanswered goals and win 5-3 in front of a sold-out crowd.
JANUARY – BACK TO WORK
After months at home in Springdale and a brief holiday break, the Razorbacks will get back on the road to face Colorado State and University of Colorado–this time in their territory. Then, January 26 & 27 will feature home games against McKendree’s Division II team.
FEBRUARY – THE FINAL PUSH FOR NATIONALS
February will be an exciting month for the Hogs, as they fight to qualify for the National Tournament for the first time. First, they will travel up to Springfield, MO, to face a familiar foe—Missouri State. Visiting the Ice Bears on their ice has proven to be a challenge for the Razorbacks in the past, as their home crowd packs quite the punch.
Returning home for a pair of games February 9-10, the Razorbacks will battle it out against the Illinois State Redbirds. The Razorbacks have a mixed history with Illinois State: dating back to the 2015-2016 season, the Hogs are 3-5 overall.
Finally, on February 16 & 17, the Hogs will welcome first time visitor Lindenwood for their last two home games leading up to the National Tournament. Last season, the Hogs traveled to Wentzville, MO, to meet the then-defending National Champion for the first time. The Ice Hogs came home with two losses, but are looking forward to hosting the Lions in Springdale this year.
MARCH – NATIONAL TOURNAMENT
If the Razorbacks qualify for the National Tournament, hosted by the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, they will travel to Columbus, OH, from March 10-15. The Hogs look to make their first ever tournament appearance this year.
2017-2018 – A NEW SEASON
Last season saw, at best, mixed results, but the program generated late season momentum with a come-from-behind win over Missouri State and a first-ever shootout victory over Lindenwood-Belleville. “We’re looking forward to applying the lessons we learned as a program last season,” said Brian Gallini, Head Coach of the Division I team. “We set a goal in 2015 to make the National Tournament within the first five seasons of Division I play and we believe we remain on track toward that goal.”
“We’ve generated substantial momentum this off-season,” said Justin McDowell, Associate Head Coach of the Division I team. “We believe in the recruiting class we’ve assembled and look forward to integrating them into our culture.”
Single game tickets for the 2017-18 regular season can be purchased on game day at the Jones Center. Season passes will also be available. Information about season passes will be released in August. Please visit arhockey.westernchl.com for further information about the team.