The History of the MSU Ice Bears Hockey Club

The Missouri State Ice Bears launch season fourteen at their Mediacom Ice Park home. The Ice Bears Div. 2 team achieved their first appearance in the ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) Div. 2 National Tournament in Boston where the Ice Bears won their first two games in pool play, suffered a loss to Penn State in the game deciding the semi-final berth and finished with a 6th place final ranking out of the approximately 200 teams in ACHA Div. 2.

The 2013-14 season was the most successful stretch for Ice Bears ACHA Div. 2 team and a highly competitive season for the Ice Bears Div. 3 team. In addition to winning their two ACHA Div. 2 Central Region games for the first time in team history, the Ice Bears Div. 2 team swept the their three games in the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association 2013/14 post season tournament and won the MACHA Tournament Championship defeating Southern Illinois University in the championship game.

The Ice Bears ACHA Div. 2 team won the tournament after a fifth place finish in MACHA Gold Division league play, while the Ice Bears ACHA Div. 3 team just missed reaching the MACHA Silver Division post-season tournament after dropping a hard fought one game playoff in Springfield to the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Ice Bears Div. 3 team finished in 9th place in regular season league play and finished with a 12 place ranking in the ACHA Div. 3 Pacific Region. In addition, the Div. 2 Ice Bears now stand at 250 wins in team history. Team home attendance continues to set season home-attendance records.

Ice Bears Head Coach Bob Bucher continued his outstanding leadership of the club. His record now stands at 51W -18L-2T in his two seasons with the Div. 2 Ice Bears including two trips to ACHA post-season tournament play and this past seasons trip to the ACHA National Tournament. The Ice Bears have finished fifth in ACHA Central Region rankings and 6th in ACHA National final team rankings in Bucher’s two seasons. ACHA Div. 3 team Head Coach Ryan Guzior lead the Div. 3 Ice Bears to a 20 W -17 L overall record and a #12 ACHA Pacific Region final team ranking in his first season as Ice Bears Div. 3 team Head Coach. Guzior served as Asst. Coach in the 2012/13 season.

Ice Bears Div. 2 team former Head Coach, Tony Dunseith served as Ice Bears bench boss for two seasons (10/11, 11/12) posting a 30-41-1 record. Ice Bears former Head Coach Mike Schroeder lead the ACHA Div. 2 team to an overall 41-33-2 record during his two seasons (09/10. 08/09). Ice Bears former Head Coach Benjamin Alexander tallied a 119-76-9 record during his six seasons behind the bench.

The Ice Bears ACHA Div. 2 team 25-12-1 season record in 13/14 included a 7 W -4 L-3 SOL MACHA league record and a fifth place finish in the league regular season. The Ice Bears set an MACHA league record in the 08/09 season when the team won their 32nd MACHA league game in a row on Nov. 22, 2008 dating back to the start of the win streak in Nov., 2006. An Ice Bears goaltending team record was also set in the 08/09 season by goaltenders Mike Poepping and Nic Zamora putting together a 203:32 shutout streak in a four game span from November 7-15, 2008.

The Ice Bears ACHA Div. 2 team has an overall team record of 250 wins, 185 losses and 15 ties from their 01/02 first season through the 13/14 season.

The ACHA Div. 2 team won the MACHA “Gold” Division tournament championship in its fourth, fifth and tenth seasons of MACHA competition and won the league regular season championship in the 07/08 season. After founding as an ACHA Div. 3 level team in 2001-02, the Ice Bears moved up to ACHA Div. 2 in their third season.

In 2004, the program grew to the point where the Club added a Jr. Varsity team. In its ninth season last year, the team played to a season record of 20 wins 17 losses. The Jr. Varsity (ACHA Div. 3) team won their first MACHA Silver Division regular season and league championship tournament in the 09/10 season. The ACHA Div. 3 team completed their first season playing at the ACHA Div. 3 level in 2010/11 and will play 32 regular season games this season, competing for their eighth season in the MACHA “Silver” Division.

The continuous growth of the program is credited largely to strong and consistent Club leadership that provides the management and coaching experience and guidance needed to produce successful results. General Manager Stan Melton, Assistant General Manager Curt Bussen and Faculty Advisor Paul Durham have worked with the club since the first season. The efforts of former Head Coach Benjamin Alexander in his first six seasons are also considered a foundation for many of the Ice Bear’s successes.

Many other volunteer staff members are Club veterans, while new staff members, coaches and interns bring fresh talent every season. The coaches and off-ice staff work in concert with the Ice Bears Player Board, which plays a key role in the Club’s leadership each season.

As a Club sport, the Ice Bears couldn’t function without the support of sponsors and advertisers contributing financial support and in-kind services critical to the Club’s operation. Those valuable contributors support is appreciated throughout the year.

The fan base continues to grow with record numbers; all it takes is attending a game or two to get hooked on the high energy, enthusiasm and speed that the game experience brings. In 2013-14, the average attendance totaled over 900 per game and over 18,000 over the full home season. In addition, the Ice Bears season ticket holders occupied 25% of the MIP main grandstand seating. With arena capacity of 1,100 at Mediacom Ice Park, the Ice Bears hope to break the 1,000 per game mark during this season’s 20 home games.

Some of our biggest fans-who often double as advertisers, supporters and volunteers – are players’ parents. Their dedication is remarkable; similar to that of the players themselves. The ACHA Div. 2 and Div. 3 teams will number more than 50 players this season. As members of a Club sport team, the players and their families make a major financial commitment to be on the team. The players also commit to balancing academics, family, games, practices, travel and community service.

While many elements change with each new season, the Missouri State Hockey Club remains proudly committed to its mission of producing a level of achievement on and off the ice to create a top-quality collegiate hockey program for Missouri State University and the Springfield / Southwest Missouri area community.

The Ice Bears are proud to represent Missouri State University in the sport of collegiate hockey as the club continues to build a tradition as a top-quality American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) college hockey program on and off the ice.