EWING, N.J. – Nov. 22, 2021 – The College of New Jersey Ice Hockey Program is proud to announce
it’s transition to Division 1 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) beginning with the
2022–23 season. With the jump, the team has also been accepted into the Northeast Collegiate Hockey League (NECHL) also starting next season. TCNJ will become the league’s newest member, joining the University of Buffalo, Niagara University, Canisius College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Oswego State, and in-state rival Rutgers University.
TCNJ will be the third program in the state of New Jersey to compete at the Division 1 level. This is the Lions first move of this kind since the program’s jump from Division 3 to Division 2 in the early 2000s. Head coach Andrew Ducko believes the move is more than just the right decision for his players, but has been earned by every single person that has ever supported the program.
“In the spring of 2015, coach Paul Batcho and I were tasked by the players with the stewardship of The College of New Jersey Ice Hockey team,” said Ducko. “We promised the leaders of our original team to continue helping the team move forward. In 2016, for the first time, we applied for Division 1, and since then, it has been an objective every season, to move towards this goal. Our teams have been fortunate enough to have success over the years at the Division 2 level, and we look forward to the challenge at the higher level.”
“This opportunity is due to the persistence and grit shown by all the teams we have coached, and the players and coaches before us.”
The Division 1 level of the ACHA is home to just under 70 teams from across the country, with most
competing in separate leagues and conferences. The Lions membership in the NECHL will allow for
further cooperation in a continued effort to grow while giving young athletes the chance to compete at the highest level possible. The league’s continued mission of support also includes an automatic berth into the ACHA Division 1 National Tournament, which is hosted at a neutral site venue each March.
The move is the latest initiative of TCNJ’s Ice Hockey program as it continues its growth and reaches for new levels of success. Since 2011 the team has won six conference championships at the ACHA Division II level including four straight in the Colonial States Collegiate Hockey Conference (CSCHC) between 2017 and 2020. The Lions are the only team in the conference’s history to win a game at the ACHA Southeast Regional tournament or to host the regional tournament itself.
Ahead of the 2021–22 season the program also launched a new second team. It is currently playing an eight game schedule this year as an independent squad. Details regarding this team’s own expansion will be forthcoming in the near future.
Since joining the team in 2015, Ducko and assistant coach Batcho have led the team to the most success in the program’s history, earning a record of 107 wins, 56 losses, 4 ties and 7 overtime losses through just over five full seasons.
“TCNJ Ice Hockey will begin our 45th season at the Division 1 ACHA level, but until then, we need to
focus on competing against the strong opponents in the Colonial States College Hockey Conference this season,” said Ducko.
The Lions hold a 6-2-0-1 record in conference’s Liberty Division and currently sit in third place on the 2021–22 standings. The team’s schedule this season has included six contests against Division 1 teams and has seen home games split between the program’s long standing home at Loucks Ice Center (Lawrenceville, NJ) and Trenton’s CURE Insurance Arena. This will continue in February 2022 when the defending conference champions host the CSCHC playoffs at CURE, marking the venue’s return to playoff hockey for the first time since 2009.
Any players interested in joining the team next season can visit and fill out TCNJ hockey’s recruit form. Prospective players seeking to attend TCNJ for 2022–23 as an undergraduate have until February 1 to apply. Additional deadlines can be found on the college’s admission page. Also make sure you are following TCNJ Hockey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be the first to hear our latest announcements.
About TCNJ Ice Hockey: Started in 1977, The College of New Jersey ice hockey program is a
non-varsity team currently competing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The
program plays over thirty games a season, across multiple divisions and including playoffs, and is one of the school’s most successful programs in the past decade.