Many TCU Athletics fans may not be aware that there is another program working their way toward national prominence - TCU Club Hockey. The Horned Frogs have been skating since 2012, competing against seven other programs a part of the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference.
In the coming days, the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which is the governing body of the TCHC, will host the ACHA Championships in DFW, as they attempt to grow the sports’ fanbase here in Texas. We spoke with Tanner Wilson to get more information on TCU’s club as well as the future of ice hockey here in Texas.
Frogs O’ War: There is probably a large section of the TCU fan base that is not aware that the Horned Frogs have a club hockey program. Can you tell us about the history, who are some rivals, and how does the program operate?
Tanner Wilson: The TCU Ice Hockey Team made its debut in 2012 and it’s of part is a club sport’s team that is part of the TCU Recreation Sports Department. It’s one of eight teams that competes in the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2 alongside the Univ. of North Texas, Dallas Baptist, Univ. of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas State, East Texas Baptist and UTEP which just wrapped up their 3rd season. When it comes to rivals, the Univ. of North Texas and Dallas Baptist would be the biggest rivals since both school’s are relativity close to each other.
FOW: What is the goal for TCU Hockey going forward?
TW: The main goal for TCU would be to continue their growth to continue both on and off campus to have a competitive team on a regular basis and to eventually win a Conference Championship and be contenders for the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Championship.
FOW: What is the ACHA National Championship and what do fans need to know about it?
TW: The ACHA National Championship is taking place from March 21st through 31st with 72 teams across 5 division’s (3 men’s and 2 women’s) and this is the first time that the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is hosting the ACHA National Championship with the Children’s Health Starscenters in Frisco, Plano and McKinney hosting the tournament. This is a big chance to help grow college hockey, not only at the club level. But possibly beginning to plant the seeds necessary to show that NCAA Hockey could be possible in Texas one day as we could be in the early stages of a major NCAA Hockey Expansion with schools like Penn State and Arizona State making their debut’s in recent years. In addition to this year’s tournament, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) will also bring the ACHA National Championship back to Dallas in 2020. This was part of a rule change that the ACHA enacted in the build up to the 2016 and the 2017 National Championship’s that was held in Columbus, Ohio. This is an effort to help grow the tournament by allowing hosting cities to host it in back-to-back years.
FOW: Who are some notable alums of collegiate club hockey that fans may be aware of?
TW: Since this is a club team and not an NCAA team. Your really not going to find any notable alumni getting serious opportunities at higher levels of hockey.
However, with the growing number of the NCAA D1 Players coming from the DFW Area. They’re a number of players that have been able to reach the Pro Ranks for the Division 1 ranks, among them include forward Blake Coleman (Miami OH/New Jersey Devils), Chris Brown (Univ. of Michigan/Nurnberg Ice Tigers DEL in Germany), Brady Ferguson (Robert Morris University/Toronto Marlies AHL) and Cason Hohmann (Boston University/EHC Olten [NLB in Switzerland]. A few that are currently playing in the NCAA or will be soon include Forward David Cotton (Boston College/Carolina Hurricanes Prospect), Defensemen Max Gildon (Univ. of New Hampshire/Florida Panthers Prospect), Michael Gildon (USNTDP U18 & 2019 Ohio State Commitment/2019 NHL Draft Prospect), Forward Chase Yoder (USNTDP U17 & 2020 Providence College Commitment & 2020 NHL Draft Prospect), D Brandon Estes (Union College), F Cam Donaldson (Cornell) and Hank Crone (Fargo Force USHL/2019 Univ. of Denver Commitment).
FOW: Anything else that folks might be interested in?
TW: The TCU Ice Hockey Team is based at the Children’s Health StarCenter in Euless, Texas and they is also a group called the TCU Ice Girls that was started by a group of player’s girlfriends to help promote the team. Now they look to help promote the team on campus. Also, every year the Horned Frogs team participates in a conference wide Prospect’s Camp to look for potential future players that may want to play in the conference in the near future that will take place in early August. If you know anyone that is interested in participating in this camp, send them this link where they can register for it here: www.texaschc.com/my-tournament.com.
As for the ACHA Hockey across the country, they’re over 500 college hockey club teams across the country and the future for both the ACHA and NCAA Ice Hockey looks very strong. Just in the last few years, two new NCAA Men’s Division 1 Hockey Team’s have made their debut with Penn State and Arizona State with possibly more on the way soon and the Big Ten created their own hockey conference that made their debut in 2014. In recent weeks, there have been numerous report’s that the Univ. of Illinois could be announcing the addition of a NCAA D1 team this spring. So this shows that teams have been able to make the jump from the ACHA (especially ACHA Division 1 to the NCAA).
Thanks to Tanner for answering some questions, and make sure you check out some good collegiate hockey here in North Texas!