Nationals Bound: Marian Men’s ACHA Ice Hockey Makes Program History


Group of Marian players join in celebration after a goal was scored in the final Regional Championship game.

Emma Lewandowski, Reporter

This past weekend, the Marian Men’s ACHA Ice Hockey team clinched the (Central) Regional Championship – a win that is historic for the Marian ACHA program, this being the first time in its program history the team has been able to claim the championship. Now, following this regional pair of wins along with their recent reclaiming of the Hap Cup in February, the ACHA men will continue their journey to the National Tournament in Frisco, Texas. Just a couple weeks out from the tournament, there is anticipation brimming on the ice, but the men are no doubt prepared to successfully finish their “revenge tour,” in the words of senior defenseman and assistant captain Paul Kinder. 

Now with an overall record of 29-3-2 and remaining undefeated in conference with a 15-0-1 record, the ACHA Sabres are looking to “make a big splash,” in their first National tournament appearance according to Justin “Bobs” Davidson, senior goaltender. Davidson recalls feeling a great deal of “disappointment,” following last year’s conference and regional losses, though is steadfast in his confident outlook now that Marian ACHA is a “team to be taken seriously.” Kinder also was reluctant to repeat last year’s losses, and sympathized with the returners especially, saying how “difficult it was to end the previous season the way [they] did.” And while the previous years have not entailed the success the ACHA men have hoped for, this season alone has surely brought back a “hunger,” says Davidson. This “hunger” is sure to accompany the men to Nationals too, as they “are all feeling confident in one another,” and their “ability as a team,” says Davidson. 

To build upon the journey to Nationals, Frederickson comments from Regionals that, “This all comes down to preparation,” as going into the final Regional game, it was an early puck drop, though the men had “been practicing at 7 am every day since second semester,” and they had an advantage. Along with preparation, there is undoubtedly an elevated feeling of excitement regarding the upcoming National Championship. After clinching Regionals, Frederickson comments that there was “a wave of emotion,” plus Davidson feels as though “it all has been a big adrenaline rush from the beginning.” Kinder, too, reflects on their accomplishment at Regionals, saying that, “it was definitely an exciting and memorable moment for all of us. We were definitely pumped. 

Pictured: Justin “Bobs” Davidson, #1, senior goaltender.

Both Davidson and Kinder offer important skills necessary to the team’s success. Davidson’s unique perspective from the net, where on average he lets up less than 2 goals per game, is one that he believes contributes to the team’s stability. He does so by keeping “everyone even-headed,” and ensuring the guys that, “no matter what they know that I’ll be there to back them up.” Davidson holds an especially important role on the team and his expertise is something that the men can rely on especially upon entering the National tournament. 

From the position of assistant captain, Kinder – being the leading goal scorer with 38 points (5 goals, 33 assists) this season – also has a perspective from that of one of the team’s leaders and the

Pictured: Paul Kinder, #22, senior defenseman.

accompanying responsibilities. He says keeping a “positive outlook throughout the team both on and off the ice,” has been especially important toward encouraging the rest of the players. Not only this, but Kinder also says that retaining focus on the team’s “ultimate goal,” that is, to bring home a National Championship win, is essential especially in regards to mental preparation. “The biggest thing,” he says, “is to keep everyone focused on that goal,” and this mindset will surely aid the Sabres in their upcoming pursuit of Nationals. 

This positive and focused mindset will be greatly beneficial now, seeing that there has been a recent pool change in the National Tournament game lineup, a change the men were not expecting. What was the original pool that included Northern Arizona University, Cincinatti, and University of New Hampshire, a supposed mistake by the official ACHA program lent to a new pool that included Florida Gulf Coast University, University of New Hampshire and Utah State University. Looking to keep a similar “positive outlook” that Kinder encourages, Frederickson says, “You know what, let’s just forget about it. We can’t be going in there with a bad mindset… playing Florida Gulf Coast right away… Let’s go.” 

From the perspective of the fans, this season has generated quite a buzz around campus, so much so that fan attendance has increased substantially from last year. Matt Htwe, a senior Men’s Lacrosse player, comments that, “it’s been a blast watching the ACHA team play.” There are two players, Tyren Boots and Dan Liberko, that dually play hockey and lacrosse, thus Htwe and the rest of his players began supporting the ACHA team. He says, “As a result, we’ve gotten pretty close with the whole team… We’re wishing them nothing but the best at Nationals, and hopefully we can build on their success with a great season of our own.” 

Hannah Koniar, a junior Women’s Ice Hockey player, also credits the ACHA men, and will continue her avid dedication to the team by accompanying the Sabres to Texas. “Like a true hockey mom would say,” she says, I’m so proud of these guys. They’ve fought through some serious adversity to be where they are today and it’s truly amazing. They always put on a show for their fans and I can’t wait to see the showdown in Texas.” 

Overall, the complete journey of the ACHA Sabres this 2018-19 season has been greatly successful, and the team is grateful for the widespread support. Frederickson credits the university and the community, and says that all the men “really appreciate Marian. The support we’ve been getting top to bottom has been unbelievable, so we want to thank everyone.”  

Tune in March 22nd – 24th (streaming TBA) to witness history being made as the ACHA Sabres battle at the National Tournament for the first time in program history.