University of Northern Colorado hockey team hosted their fundraiser for nationals March 18 at the Ice Haus.
The Bears will be taking on University of Massachusetts, Trine University and North Carolina State in Plano, Texas.
Going into the tournament the Bears are the second of two auto bids from the West Region playing in Pool A.
This is the second consecutive time the Bears have been to the ACHA Division II Nationals Playoff, and first as an auto-bid team.
What the Players Had to Say
The Bears made it to last year’s nationals in Cinderella fashion by winning their spot through an emotional regionals tournament.
“It felt like last year was a good learning experience for our team and this year we can really compete” said starting goalie Ashton Opperman.
The sentiment was echoed across the other teammates that they are “all in” this year, no matter what.
Brian Brink said the practices have focused on “endurance, conditioning and schemes” drills in preparation for nationals.
The Bears had a longer break than last year’s trip to nationals since they earned an auto-bid and are just getting back to the ice starting Friday morning.
One of the Bears most talented players in school history, Cameron Taggart, said his most memorable moment would have to be between reaching 100 goals or “having all of the seniors score on Senior Night, including our defenseman”.
The team should be much better prepared than last year with so many players having a nationals experience after last year.
Holding the Glue Together
Team manager Erin Prueter has been with the team for five seasons.
When she arrived at UNC the team was just “the basics”.
“When I started with the team my freshmen year they didn’t even have a social media account”.
Prueter has been instrumental in coordinating game day and promotional events for the Bears.
Three years ago Erin started the now annual Cancer Awareness Night and Military Appreciation Night.
With support from the players, coaches and staff the Bears had produced a true way of giving back to the Greeley community.
In recognition of their efforts, the ACHA awarded them the 2017 Division II Community Service of the Year Award.
Erin will be graduating with a Sports Administration Degree and hopes to continue to be an events and game day coordinator at one of the local teams.
Additional to being the Bears manager and events coordinator she also interned with the Colorado Eagles, Denver Outlaws, and USA Rugby.
Erin hopes to work on the game day coordinating staff for the Colorado Eagles, Denver Broncos, or Colorado Avalanche someday.
For now, her and the Bears will be working their tails off to win a national championship in Texas.