WILLISTON, N.D. - Since adding hockey to its Teton athletic program in 2012, Williston State College has made five appearances at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Hockey Tournament in Binghamton, New York.
Winning back-to-back national championships in 2013 and 2014 brought WSC national recognition and enhanced recruitment.
Two North Dakota teams advanced to the NJCAA Frozen Four this year: WSC and Dakota College of Bottineau. Despite losing to Bottineau for the regional title, the Tetons received a lone at-large berth Thursday, February 18 to return to Nationals as the number four seed.
"First and foremost, we would like to thank the Williston community for making our trips to Nationals possible. Without their financial support it would have been impossible to get to New York this year," John Bowkus, WSC Head Hockey Coach, explained. "We heard about our berth on the 18th and fundraised until we left on the 23rd. We are lucky to have such a great support network here in Williston."
Arriving in New York after a three-day bus trip, the hockey team squeezed in a couple practices before attending a banquet Friday night. The Tetons faced Erie Community College on Saturday, February 27, a long awaited rematch as the Tetons lost to the Kats in the 2015 National Championship.
"We worked hard, had a couple of power plays right off the bat, and we were looking really good," explained Bowkus. "But the game, just like last year, was marred by penalties. In the end, it was the difference in the game." Erie beat the Tetons 6-1.
This year was the first time both DCB and WSC appeared at the Frozen Four. The two North Dakota colleges have won a combined 11 NJCAA National Hockey Championships. "Although Dakota College brought home the national championship, Williston State is proud both teams were in a position to represent North Dakota's excellence in hockey," stated Dr. Raymond Nadolny, President of WSC.
With the Tetons accepted to the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), this was the last opportunity for Williston State to compete in the NJCAA National Tournament. The NJCAA has officially announced that it will no longer sponsor hockey as a sport after the 2016 season. The Tetons will begin ACHA play in fall of 2016 and will immediately be eligible for postseason.
"NJCAA National Hockey Tournaments have shaped WSC Hockey into what it is today," explained Dan Artamenko, WSC Athletic Director. "We have been runner up twice, and won two national championships. Being part of this tournament meant a lot to WSC."
For more information about Teton Hockey, contact Dan Artamenko, WSC Athletic Director at 701.774.4546 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For any information regarding WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.