Club hockey moving up to ACCHL Division 2


UNCW Club Ice Hockey

Brian Carpenter, Staff Writer

After finishing just one win away from advancing to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) national tournament this past season, UNC Wilmington club hockey will be taking another major step forward in the program’s development.

UNCW was accepted in March as a member of the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League (ACCHL), which will move the Seahawks from college hockey’s Division 3 to Division 2. The team will compete in the Carolina West Division, where the Seahawks will be paired with North Carolina State, Duke and North Carolina.

“Moving up to D2 will give us a more challenging schedule with opponents who have proven themselves as established programs already,” said Nicholas Packard, who will be a senior on next year’s team. “The chance to play with some of the big schools from across the state will make for more meaningful games and a better atmosphere for our fans.”

“It is a pretty cool feeling when you sit down and think about. It really makes you want to work a little bit harder to try and start off on the right foot.”

UNCW is familiar with D2 competition, having played a home and home series with NC State and hosting Elon at the Wilmington Ice House in January. The Seahawks have also faced UNC in past seasons.

Hunter Phillips sees this as an advantage heading into next season.

“I believe those few games we played against State and Elon gave us a taste of what we have to do in order to have success in D2. We know the returning talent we will have next year, and I think everyone knows what is expected of them prior to the start of the season,” said Phillips.

“It’s an exciting process for sure. Not only being a part of the first team to play D2 at UNCW but to also be a part of the transition process is an exciting phase in itself.”

Moving up will also increase the level of competition that UNCW faces on a consistent basis. In D3, the team felt that the level of competition wasn’t as high to what they will be facing in D2.

This transition will force the Seahawks to play harder and be more focused on what they need to do to be successful.

“There were a few games throughout the season last year where we would play up or down to our competition’s level,” said assistant captain Will Tooke. “Now that we are going to be playing against harder competition on a more consistent basis, I think we know we are going to have to play our hardest each game.”

With such exciting news for a program that has seen continued success over the 13 seasons since its inception, this can be looked at as the next step going forward for UNCW hockey. Although there will be a bit of a transition period for the team, Tooke, Packard and Phillips are all ready to lead the Seahawks in their future endeavors.

“All the returning players are pretty pumped about it and it will be interesting to see what is in store for the program once we move up,” said Tooke.