When the Stevenson ACHA Mustangs hit the ice Friday night, they’ll have a new look– a full roster. The team announced Tuesday that they were going to suspend operations on their D3 program, a program they started this season, as they’ll focus their attention to their D2 schedule for the rest of the year.
Despite it being a tough call to make, it was the right one for the safety and enjoyment of the game for the players on the squad. The announcement comes as both the D2 team is 0-4-0 while only scoring two goals in those four games, while the D3 team was 0-3-1 with a better goal differential at -11, but seemingly having a minimal roster for their games. Stevenson’s ACHA squad had been announcing players over the summer and it looked like they’d have a solid foundation moving forward. However, it seemed that times changed from the announcements to when the games actually started.
Stevenson’s D2 venture did have plenty of success pre-pandemic, too. They had build off the culture of their NCAA counterparts, they had solid chemistry, and an active coaching staff and leadership group to lead the way. With interest in the program, it was only a matter of time before the expansion of the program happened. Whether or not the right time for expansion was now will be for armchair GMs to figure out– but if the interest was there, there’s no reason not to make a D3 team with some of the group from the D2 team to help lead the way. As with life, though, circumstances change and at the moment– things didn’t pan out.
Program Director and Head Coach Mike Urgo’s vision is there. He did what he could with recruiting, has done wonders in the past during the pandemic to have his players on the ice and in some kind of game action with plenty of intrasquad tournaments for the Turtle Cup, and he’s made his team very visible on social media to get the word out there. There’s no doubt in my mind that next season, this school will have two strong programs on the men’s side of the puck for the ACHA season– and perhaps a women’s ACHA offering, too?? Just throwing that out there.
When all is said and done, the fact that the problem was seen and the right decision was made in order to not overwork the players in each division is an admirable one. The focus now can be getting the season back on track, be able to have the luxury of more than two lines on the bench, and look at boosting the all around confidence at this level to make it more desirable for prospective players to want to join this team.