BISMARCK, ND – The University of Mary agreed this week to pursue men’s hockey and will now wait for approval from the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) in order to participate in their hockey program starting a year from now during the fall 2018 season. University of Mary Athletic Director Dale Lennon made the announcement today at the Marauders’ monthly booster luncheon.

“Hockey is one of the most popular sports in North Dakota and throughout the region and will fit perfectly on our campus,” said Lennon. “Our state has teams at a variety of levels and the addition of Marauders hockey allows for more student-athletes to have the opportunity to continue to play a sport they love and gain a University of Mary education.”

The ACHA has approximately 408 teams and includes three divisions: I, II and III. The University of Mary has applied for Division I status. In contrast, 147 teams currently play NCAA college hockey in Divisions I and III. Similar to the 80 NCAA Division III schools, programs in the ACHA are not allowed to award athletic scholarships. To get the University of Mary hockey program off to a competitive start, it will move quickly in the approval process. If all goes according to plan, the Marauders anticipate fielding a team of 25 student-athletes when they begin competition next September.

“At the University of Mary, we develop athletic programs that contribute to the full education of our students: social, intellectual, and spiritual,” said University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea. “Done rightly, the athletic arena provides moral education for student-athletes. This new program gives the hockey players of our region and beyond an opportunity to compete for a university committed to competitive excellence, while also providing ethical formation in virtue based upon the Benedictine values and a correct understanding of the purpose of athletic competition.”

University of Mary has identified a Hall of Fame coach to head the program. Dan Huntley, a three-time National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Coach of the Year who led his team to the 1999 NJCAA national title and current Marauders associate athletic director, will add hockey head coaching duties to his responsibilities.

A former collegiate player at the College of St. Scholastica, Huntley was head coach at Rainy River (MN) Community College and Northland (WI) College, an NCAA Division III program, and served five seasons at each school. He was also the Midget AAA head coach at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for a season. While at Rainy River Huntley led the Voyagers to the 1999 NJCAA National Championship and was NJCAA National Coach of the Year in 1995, 1997 and 1999. In 2015, he was inducted into the NJCAA Ice Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“I believe we will create a winning program immediately,” said Huntley. “Our team will play an exciting brand of hockey that will keep our fan base energized and coming back for more. Building a program from the ground up gives us the opportunity to bring in student-athletes from varied backgrounds. Our focus isn’t just to fill roster spots, but to get quality student-athletes who fit the mission of the university. I am humbled and grateful the school is allowing me to maintain my current administrative role while entrusting me to build, lead and develop a respected hockey program that the University of Mary and the community can be proud of.”

Playing in the ACHA provides Mary the opportunity to bring NCAA Power 5 schools to town such as Oklahoma, Colorado, Colorado State, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Iowa State.

Additionally, University of Mary will be able to build on its current instate competition with Minot State University and renew the Marauders long-time rivalry with University of Jamestown.

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