A couple of Atlantic Hockey Association teams have been busy this summer. In a month’s time, a second school from the AHA has upgraded their hockey facilities. Tuesday, the American International College announced that their hockey team would be moving into the Springfield MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Beginning in 2016-17, the Yellow Jackets will have a have a new 6,866 seat arena for home games and practice.
For the past 18 seasons, the Yellow Jackets played in the 2,220 seat Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts. That all changes on Friday, October 14, 2016, at 7:05 pm Eastern when the Yellow Jackets play their first game in their new home against the Union Dutchmen.
Over the past three seasons, the Yellow Jackets have struggled mightily on the ice. They’ve won just 21 times in the last 111 games. The Yellow Jackets are looking to move up the AHA standings.
Last season, the Yellow Jackets finished last in the AHA standing with a 7-29-3 (.218) record. In April, AIC decided to change their trajectory and hired head, AIC Alumnus Eric Lang, to be their program’s ninth head coach. Lang returns to the Yellow Jackets after spending four seasons as an assistant coach with Army Black Knights. With a new head coach and the move to the MassMutual Center, this could help lift the Yellow Jackets’ hockey program to new heights in Atlantic Hockey and Division I college hockey.
“What an amazing day for AIC hockey,” coach Lang said in a release. “To be playing and practicing a mile away from AIC’s campus in the heart of downtown Springfield, and to be able to call the MassMutual Center our home, is a surreal feeling. I am ecstatic for our student-athletes, fans, and our alums.
As our team is trying to build a new legacy, having a first-class facility like the MassMutual Center that we can call our own, let’s everyone know how serious AIC is about building a winning men’s ice hockey program. With only 60 Division I men’s ice hockey teams in the country, this new partnership promises to bring exciting, high-level college hockey to Springfield.”
Yellow Jackets Athletic Director Matthew Johnson is also excited about the move to the new arena:
“I’d like to start by thanking the Olympia Ice Center for being a great partner for the past 18 years,” Johnson said. “Today is a monumental day for the AIC athletic department and, more specifically our men’s Division I ice hockey program. This is just another example of our higher administration displaying their commitment to athletics and competing at the highest level.”
Eric is a 1996, 1999 graduate of the University of North Dakota. Eric covers the University of North Dakota Hockey and Division I college hockey. Eric is the Contributing Editor for Inside Hockey.