Concordia University Wisconsin officials have announced that the university is adding Division III men’s and women’s hockey to its sports line-up for the 2007-2008 school year.
“We are very excited to be making this announcement,” said CUW President Patrick Ferry. “It will enable students who play hockey another choice in pursuing their higher education goals while continuing to play a sport they love.”
The university has hired NHL veteran and Mequon resident Tony Hrkac to serve as head coach for the Falcon men’s team. Athletic Director Rob Barnhill said that a women’s coach is expected to be named by October 1.
Hrkac’s outstanding hockey career includes a 1987 NCAA National Championship while competing at the University of North Dakota and the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top Division 1 performer that same season. His 18-year professional career includes stints with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Chicago Black Hawks, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Sharks, and St. Louis Blues, plus winning a Stanley Cup ring with the Stars in 1999. Hrkac’s final professional stop was with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals from 2003-2005 and he helped lead that team win the Calder Cup in 2004.
“I am honored to be named the first men’s hockey coach in Concordia history,” said Hrkac. It’s a pleasure to be associated with a school of this caliber and I am looking forward to putting a great product on the ice. My family loves Mequon and I wanted to coach hockey … so this was a perfect fit!”
Speaking about Hrkac, Milwaukee Admirals coach Claude Noel said, “Tony is a class guy; a very intelligent hockey man. He’s passionate- just a wonderful teacher. He will gain the respect of his players with his dedication to the game. Tony’s a great hire for Concordia.”
According to Wisconsin Badgers coach Mike Eaves, “It is a tremendous occasion for Concordia University and the entire hockey community of Wisconsin to have Concordia establishing a men’s and women’s hockey program. It creates another opportunity for young people to continue playing a wonderful game while pursuing a higher education. We here at the University of Wisconsin are thrilled for Concordia and wish them all the best in this terrific endeavor.”
Frank O’Brien, athletic director for Wisconsin-Stevens Point had this to say, “Division III hockey will be getting a huge boost with the addition of both Concordia’s men’s and women’s programs. This news will certainly afford new opportunities for participation and competition, as well as providing opportunities for expansion in both men’s and women’s Division III leagues.”
Steven Nelson, director of athletics for Wisconsin-Superior and a member of the NCAA Division III Ice Hockey Championship Committee echoes O’Brien’s comments, “I am extremely pleased at the decision that Concordia-Wisconsin has made to add men’s and women’s ice hockey to their athletic line-up. Their decision will only strengthen hockey in the state of Wisconsin. We welcome the Falcons with open arms.”
The university is currently in the process of completing application to the MCHA for the men’s hockey team and the NCHA for the women’s hockey squad with Concordia’s league play involvement to begin in the fall of 2007.
Concordia will be practicing and hosting its home matches at the Ozaukee Ice Center. The university is confident that this new long-term commitment with the Ice Center will increase community interest in the sport by all ages and reinforce the sustainability of the business model for an expanded Ozaukee Ice Center.
Founded in 1881, Concordia University Wisconsin’s main campus is located on 192 acres of beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. The university is affiliated with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and is a member of the Concordia University System, a nationwide network of colleges and universities. It is not associated with Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., a member of the MIAC.