UCO Hockey Wins National Championship
The UCO Hockey team recently earned its second national championship.
UCO’s Kurtis Johnson, 9, takes the puck during the Jan. 13, 2017 hockey game. The UCO Hockey team recently won their second Division I National Championship in three years. (Ryan Naeve, The Vista).
For the second time in just three years the UCO Hockey Team won the ACHA Division I National Championship with a 3-0 victory over Ohio University.
The Bronchos entered the tournament ranked fourth in the nation with a 28-7 record. By getting a top four spot, they were able to obtain a by and easier path to the big game. “It was huge,” UCO’s head coach Craig McAllister said. “It gave us a day off in between [the tournament] days.”
In the early part of the first game of tournament, the Bronchos was down 2-0 against Illinois University. It didn’t last long though as UCO came back and ended the game with a 7-2 victory.
“It took us a while to get rolling, but once we were able to get rolling it was huge,” McAllister said.
With the first win under their belt, UCO was able to rest before the next game. The rest seemed to have helped as UCO swept through the next round against Iowa State. With a score of 6-1, the Bronchos had their offense under control.
“It was just great team play,” junior forward Brandon Formosa said. “Everybody stepped up in areas they didn’t have to.”
The biggest test for UCO came in the semifinal round against first-ranked Minot State. Who had a league leading 30 wins over the course of the regular season Minot State. Once again the Bronchos fell behind early, but were able to rally back, bringing the score to 6-3 in the third period. Minot State attempted a comeback, but it was too little, too late as UCO completed the upset winning 6-5 and advancing to the championship round.
“We didn’t panic,” McAllister said. “We just went to work, then we were able to gut it out.”
After escaping with a 6-5 win, the Bronchos faced their last opponent, Ohio University. The ACHA Division I tournament was held in Columbus, Ohio – only 20 minutes away from Ohio’s campus.
“We knew it was going to be a good game going in, but overall we were confident,” junior forward Donny Danroth said.
Confidence prevailed as UCO scored a goal in each of the three periods of the game, finishing a long and hard season hoisting the National Championship trophy.
AND WITH A 3-0 SHUTOUT, THE CENTRAL OKLAHOMA BRONCHOS ARE THE 2017 ACHA MEN’S DIVISION 1 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
— UCO Hockey (@bronchoshockey) March 15, 2017
With their performance this year along and with their 2014-2015 season, UCO Hockey has seemed to have put UCO on the map.
“People know who we are now,” Brandon Formosa said. Larger Division I schools as well as major hockey programs have begun taking notice of this team.
“It really helped bring the name of our school out to there,” Danroth said.
This win helps solidify UCO as a national power in the ACHA league. “It proves to everybody that two years ago wasn’t a fluke,” McAllister said. “We’re building something here.”
Next year, players like Formosa and Danroth expect to repeat these wins. Although they will be losing six key members, UCO is excited to see everyone continue to improve.
“It’s a championship or bust season for us,” Formosa said.
Only time will tell how the Bronchos do next season, but one thing is for sure – the 2017 National Champions will forever belong to the University of Central Oklahoma.