On Friday, September 1, the Division I Razorbacks welcome the Springfield Express to the Jones Center to open the 2017-18 season—the team’s third season in ACHA Division I play. The scrimmage is free and open to the public.
The Express, perennial contenders in the WSHL, are a junior hockey team. The concept of junior hockey is a foreign one to many. After or in the middle of their high school hockey careers, most future college hockey players postpone their educational pursuits to continue their hockey careers in juniors hockey. Depending on their age (junior hockey eligibility begins at sixteen), some players spend up to three years playing junior hockey across the country (or, in some cases, in a different country). The players move away from home and stay with so-called “billet” or host families in order to develop and mature as players while preserving their college eligibility.
The Express arrive in Arkansas after posting a 36-16 record and competing in the WSHL playoffs last season. Like the Razorbacks, the Express saw substantial changes in the off-season—former Head Coach Jeremy Law assumed the same position with conference-rival Missouri State. In his place, Coach Ambrefe comes to Springfield with a tremendous hockey resume and experience as both a player and coach. Last season, Ambrefe was the Head Coach and GM for the Casper Coyotes of the WSHL.
The Express will be facing three familiar faces on the ice—former Express players Chris Stovall, Tobias Sjolund, and Collin Young. After finishing the 2016-17 season at 8-29-1, the DI Razorbacks welcome 15 new faces to the team.
The puck drops at the Jones Center on Friday at 4:45 pm.