February 9, 2016
Salt Lake City, UT
The American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) has approved the University of Utah hockey program’s request to move up to Division I and will compete at the league’s highest level beginning next season with a hybrid schedule. Utah GM AJ Boldan said, “This is a great opportunity for our program and Hockey in the State of Sport, we are really looking forward to this new challenge.”
The 2016-17 season will mark the tenth anniversary of the Utah Hockey Program, which culminates a journey from the bottom of Division II to an elite program which will now compete at the highest level in non-varsity college hockey. The Utes are the fourth team from the PAC-12 NCAA conference to move up to Division I of the ACHA and will join Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado in the league that currently has 59 members for the 2015-2016 season.
Since the current program reformed for the 2006-2007 season, the journey has been long. In their first season back, the Utes struggled while posting a 1-18 record and were outscored by 163 goals in their first season at the Division II level.
The Utes would improve in season two with the team recording a 7-25-1 record, which included some very big wins at home. The 2008-2009 season saw the Utes only win twice in their 28 games, posting a 2-26 record. After that season the Utes would start to improve in an exponential way.
When new head coach Jon Bertagnolli took over the team for the 2009-2010 season, the team saw a drastic improvement with the team posting a 16-16 record, which was their best season since the team reformed. The team would see a drop off the next year by going 15-22, but that would be the last time that the Utes would have a losing record at the D2 level.
From 2011 to 2015, the Utes put together four straight winning seasons with a combined record of 118-39-4. The Utes would make the postseason all four years with three regional final appearances and an appearance at the 2015 ACHA National Championship Tournament, where the team finished sixth in the nation.
The team has been ranked in the ACHA’s West Division the last four years as well with their best final ranking coming last year, when the Utes finished the regular season ranked third in the West. The team has even seen individual accolades come their way with Beau Bertagnolli winning the ACHA scoring title during the 2010-2011 season by tallying 89 points, a record that still stands today in the Utah Hockey record books.
This season has been the best ever at Utah, with the team posting a 25-2-3 record along with their highest ranking ever in the West Division at number two. The Utes are set for an automatic bid to this year’s National Championship in West Chester, which would be a first for the team if they can hold on to their ranking when the final poll comes out next week, all under the helm of new Head Coach Brett Huras.
Ever since the University of Utah moved to the Pac-12 Conference in the NCAA, the hockey team has been a member of the PAC-8 Hockey Conference and has seen success in that league over the last five years. In that span Utah has five PAC-8 Championship Game appearances, two 2nd place trophies and now three PAC-8 Championships in their five-year existence in the conference. They will leave the conference with the second most titles in the in 21 years the conference has existed.
Utah has also had the honor of hosting the 2013 ACHA West Regional Tournament, 2014 PAC-8 Championships, 2015 Wasatch Cup, and the 2015 ACHA ACHA D2 National Tournament. Success on the ice has also coincided with success in the classroom, with the team GPA annually above 3.1 and typically has 9-11 student athletes on the Dean’s List.
University of Utah Hockey wishes to thank all the student athletes, volunteers, hockey families, early mornings, late nights, University Administration, and most importantly the Utah Hockey Fans for your support over the years and making this happen!