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COC hockey team staying put

Squad remains in ACHA Division III despite success

Posted: February 21, 2010 10:20 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
In only a decade of existence, the College of the Canyons men’s ice hockey team has already put together an impressive resume.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, that hasn’t gotten them any closer to becoming a varsity sport.

Currently a club sport, COC’s hockey team competes in Division III of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, a national organization with three divisions that includes more than 350 schools across the country.

The California Community College Athletic Association does not include ice hockey as one of its team sports.

COC is ineligible to become an NCAA team because it is not a four-year college or university, which is an eligibility requirement in all three NCAA divisions.

The school is also currently ineligible to move up to either Division I or II in the ACHA. Only four-year institutions are eligible according to each division’s bylaws.

Moving up a division is a more realistic short-term goal for the program.

“We’d love to be a Division II sport,” said team general manager Jim Schrage.

Chances are the Cougars would excel no matter what the division.

COC has already been to the Division III national tournament five times since 2003, including this year.

The Cougars compete in the Pacific Collegiate Hockey Association, a conference in ACHA Division III, and they won their second straight PCHA championship this year.

COC head coach John Taferner said that it’s the first time a community college has repeated as PCHA champions.

It’s an expensive process, however.

According to the ACHA’s Division III bylaws, teams must pay $1,150 each season, which partially covers the costs for regional and national tournaments.

The cost is $1,200 in Division II, and in Division I the minimum budget for a program to be eligible is $50,000.

Division I also requires an arena with a minimum capacity of 500 people and a minimum attendance of 300 people per game.

“For intercollegiate, there are certain requirements for rinks and other things,” Schrage said. “It’s a huge financial investment.”

The Cougars will take part in the ACHA Division III national tournament from March 10-13 in Fort Myers. Fla.

At the 2009 national tournament in Rochester, N.Y., COC won just one of its five games and placed 14th out of 16 teams.

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