MSU Men’s Hockey Skates Into National Tournament
BOZEMAN – For many sports fans, the term “Final Four” brings to mind March Madness basketball, but the Montana State University Bobcat men’s club hockey team is hoping to change that later this month. The team will travel to its own big dance March 17-21 to compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division 2 national tournament, and their goals reach beyond the Final Four.
“We want to win it,” said graduate student Ryan Perius, who plays center and is in his fifth year with the team. “Our ultimate goal is to win a national championship, and we haven’t hidden that from anybody.”
The Bobcats are currently ranked No. 2 in the west region and No. 3 in the nation, which earned them a bye for the regional tournament and a direct seed into the national event. They will play three games against the other teams in their assigned pool, with the winner of each of the four pools advancing to the semifinals on March 20, followed by the championship game on March 21. All the ACHA games can be streamed with a subscription to HockeyTV.
The MSU team is coming off its most successful season in history, said club president Zach Lane. With a 26-7 record, the team won its second straight Mountain West Collegiate Hockey League title, and head coach Dave Weaver was named West Region Coach of the Year. They advanced to the national tournament in 2022 – the third time since the team was founded in 1998 – but didn’t make it out of the pool play round. Having experienced the championship atmosphere before, Lane said the team is hungry for a better showing.
“This year getting that second seed, we just have that much more confidence,” said Lane, who is a senior right wing from Orange County, California studying mechanical engineering. “We’re going into the tournament knowing that we can win, believing in ourselves. About half of our team went last year, so we have that perfect balance of experience and excitement.”
As a club sport rather than an official NCAA team, the hockey program is largely player-funded and does most of its own fundraising, said Perius, and getting the team, coaches and equipment to Massachusetts for a weeklong tournament is no easy feat. The team’s MSU Giving Day project raised around $2,400, and they have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise as much of the $49,000 needed for the trip as they can. Team members volunteer with local youth hockey leagues and in area schools during the fall semester, which Perius said provides a level of community connection and recognition that has led to extraordinary support from the wider realm of hockey in Montana.
“They love to see us, and we love making those connections,” said Perius, who is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, and who is in the one-year Master of Science and Innovation Management graduate program in the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. “We couldn’t do any of this without the community’s support.”
- By Reagan Colyer, MSU News Service -
ACHA Championship Schedule
The Bobcat men’s hockey team will play in Pool D for the first round of the ACHA Championships. The team will play three games in an effort to advance to the semifinal. All times are Mountain Time. Game times are subject to change, and the most up-to-date information can be found HERE.
- Game 1: Friday, March 17, 9:15 a.m. against the University of New Hampshire.
- Game 2: Saturday, March 18, at 9:15 a.m. against Indiana University.
- Game 3: Sunday, March 19, at 3:15 p.m. against Lindenwood University.