In 1996, the Club formed and petitioned to
be a member of the Mid American Collegiate Hockey Association
(MACHA), an affiliate member of the American Collegiate Hockey
Association (ACHA). It was granted a probationary status.
The Club, made up of players mostly from the immediate area
around the campus, played and practiced at the East Alton
Ice Arena. In its inaugural season the Club posted no victory's.
the 1997-98 season, the Cougars officially became a part of
the Mid American Collegiate Hockey Association. The Club moved
to the US Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights. The Cougars
record for the season was six wins and fifteen losses. In
November of the 1998-99 season, then Coach and General Manager
Bill Miziak, ceased operation of the team as a participating
member of the Mid American Collegiate Hockey Association,
due to administrative and financial shortcomings. All games
were cancelled. All Club assets (jerseys, pucks, water bottles,
and the team banner) were lost.
In May of 1999, down but not out, the
Club's Student Board of Directors went to the Mid American
Collegiate Hockey Association's yearly meeting and requested
reinstatement for the Cougars. Scott Cloin headed up the effort
and along with other members of the Club, presented themselves
in a mature and business like manner that so impressed the
MACHA member teams, that they were granted their request for
the coming season.
The 1999-2000 found the Club under new
leadership. With direction from Cloin, Corby Carlson, Scott
Stahlhut, Bryan Raymer and Tom Hoagland, the team regrouped.
Mr. Larry Thatcher, General Manager of the East Alton Ice
Arena and Head Coach of the Roxana Shells High School Hockey
Club, was approached and agreed to serve as Head Coach and
General Manager for the team, along with Assistant Coach Mr.
Dennis Gerling. The University's, Chad Rogers, was soundly
behind the team offering both advice and providing the maximum
in financial help that was allowed under the guidelines of
SIUE. The team moved its games and practices back to the East
Alton Ice Arena and held open tryouts. The 1999-00 season
was a struggle with the Cougars winning only three games,
losing sixteen games and tying one. But progress was being
made. A budget was in place, all players paid their financial
obligations and several sponsors came forward to help out.
The new and improved Cougar Hockey Club had a sense of honor,
sportsmanship and discipline that was lacking in its first
two seasons. It was being run like a business and despite
a losing record; it was evident that the Club was on its way
and entering a new era. A Mission Statement was adopted in
1999 and reads as follows:
The Southern Illinois University Cougars Hockey Club is
dedicated to providing the student athlete an opportunity
to participate in the sport of ice hockey. The team will belong
to an established, legitimate ice hockey league competing
for regional and national titles. The Club shall emphasize
academic performance with eligibility criteria, sportsmanship,
and institutional integrity.
the Cougars posted yet again, another losing season going
3-13-1. However, administratively many things had changed.
The club now had assets in the ownership of four sets of game
jerseys and socks, practice jerseys, pucks, water bottles,
medical kit and the many ancillary items that it takes to
be a viable hockey team. Continued support from Club Sports
at SIUE, both financially and in spirit, heightened the awareness
in the Clubs members of their closeness to the University
and their need to maintain its integrity. In keeping with
the new Mission Statement, players understood that they were
an extension of the University wherever they were as a team.
Each player signed an agreement of financial obligation and
"code of conduct" to be a participant in the club. The bills
were getting paid and being a part of the team was something
to be proud of. The Cougars had a lot of fun in the 3-13-1
season and while they were still losing, the scores were getting
closer and respect was forming around the league for the feisty
group of players from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
The 2001-2002 was a turn around year for the Club. Building
on the foundation set in place the two previous seasons, new
players began to arrive. Recent high school stars from around
the area as well as a stand out from Red Bud, Illinois by
the name of Sean Walls, showed up in the Cougars annual "mini
camp". The camp is held each spring and invites high school
juniors and seniors from everywhere to experience "Cougar
Pride". These potential newcomers get to play alongside veteran
Cougar players such as Cloin, Raymer, Mike Cusack, Griffin
Petri, and Joe Schmitt, getting a real "feel" for the atmosphere
of the Club. They liked what they saw. With seven new players
added to the core of veteran Cougars, the team went 18-9-1
for the year. One of the bright moments was beating Bradley
University for the first time in the history of the Club,
and doing it in their "house" at the Owens Center in Peoria.
The Cougars finished in first place in the
Regular Season - Silver Tier of the Mid American Collegiate
Hockey Association, Division II and were no longer the brunt
of jokes around the league. With the Regular Season Championship
under its belt, the Club went to Chicago to compete in its
first ever MACHA Championship Playoff. Winning
the first round over the University of Iowa, the Cougars went
on to compete against Robt. Morris College - Chicago for the
Silver Division Championship. Leading 3-2, the game slipped
through the fingers of the Cougars when Robt. Morris tied
the game with just :38 to play in regulation time, going on
to win the game in overtime, scoring 5:32 into the first overtime
period. But the season had been a tremendous success and the
boys looked forward to the coming fall. The season ended with
a banquet and honored Chad Rogers with the teams new "Presidents
Award" for his continued support of the club.
The 2002-2003 season started off with a bang when
nearly fifty players showed up for the August tryouts. Among
them were star players from Christian Boys College of St.
Louis, Matt Kaiser and Austin Jones, standout forward Jason
Walker from the Edwardsville Tigers High School Hockey Club
as well as a former St. Louis University - Division I player
and Chicago native, Joe DiMaggio. Along with these formidable
"rookies", fourteen veteran Cougar players returned to take
part in what would turn out to be the Clubs first LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
SEASON. With so many players eager to participate in Cougar
Hockey, the Club decided to add a second team which would
serve as a Junior Varsity team and participate as a Division
III team. Mr. Craig Buntenbach agreed to serve as Head Coach
for the D-III team.
The 2002-03 highlights are outlined below:
D-II team finished the year with a 19-6-1 record. 10-3-1
in Conference and in second place in the Silver Tier.
Collegiate Hockey Association Division II - Silver Tier Champions.
The Cougars D-II was ranked amongst the top ten teams in
the Central Region of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
We were #10, and we were only there for a week, but it was
the first time in the history of the club that we've ever
been ranked at all.
Defeating Northern Illinois University
for the first time in Club history.
Defeating the University
of Missouri - St. Louis for the first time in Club history.
Defeating all the teams in the tier above us except one,
Palmer that we didn't get to play and one, St. Louis University,
which we out shot 68 to 33.
Watching Northern Illinois University
and the University of Missouri - St. Louis compete against
each other for the Mid American Collegiate Hockey Association
Division II, Gold Tier Championship, knowing that, playing
out of our tier, we had defeated each of them during regular
Beating Bradley in Peoria, on their senior
night. Bradley was in a tier above us and had finished in
first place in that tier.
After losing and tying Northwestern
in the regular season, defeating them 11 - 3 in the playoffs,
to advance to the championship round.
Defeating Robert Morris
College - Springfield to bring the Mid American Collegiate
Hockey Association - Division II, Silver Tier Championship
home to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
of the D-III team. (The newly formed D-III team had an outstanding
season as well, closing out the year at 15-7).
support from SIUE Club Sports.
Being able to see our graduating
seniors Scott Cloin, Bryan Raymer and Tommy Brown leave their
playing days behind them as CHAMPIONS!
Last but not least,
being honored by the recognition given to the Cougar Hockey
Club by Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, at Goshen
Hall on February 26.