Southwest Minnesota state University in Marshall will field a men’s club hockey team beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Mustangs will join the ranks of approximately 450 collegiate club hockey teams that comprise the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).

Mike Deschneau, assistant professor of special education, is the faculty advisor for the club. He is also the director of football operations as a member of the Mustang football coaching staff.

The ACHA, a partner with USA Hockey, sanctions three levels of play, and SMSU’s club team will play in Division II, said Deschneau. The club hockey team will also seek membership in the Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association (WCCHA), which is comprised of 14 member teams split into two divisions.

The team will play its games at the Red Baron Arena in Marshall, the premier hockey facility in southwest Minnesota.

It’s anticipated that approximately 17 players will be on the roster for the inaugural season, and will play approximately 15 games. The roster will include approximately 32 players for the 2021-22 season, and the team will play about 25 games.

In his role as faculty advisor, Deschneau will assist the student club leaders in organizing the club and helping it get started.

Deschneau is a former assistant women’s and men’s hockey coach at Gustavus Adolphus. At the high school level, he was an assistant at New Prague and Mankato West, and the head coach at North Branch.

Deschneau said the team will play newer club programs in its inaugural season, such as UM-Crookston, Dordt and Jamestown, to name a few.

The first-year roster will be comprised of former hockey players who are current SMSU students, “and high school students and junior hockey players who want to continue their careers in college,” said Deschneau. “I expect with the (Red Baron Arena), the interest that’s out there for hockey in the area, and the amount of junior hockey in this part of the state, it will draw a lot of interest, and presents a great opportunity for students to continue to play at the collegiate level.”

SMSU President Kumara Jayasuriya welcomes the addition of club hockey. “Minnesota is known as the hockey state. There is a lot of interest in the sport, and having a club hockey team at SMSU will allow students to continue to play in college.”

For further information, contact Deschneau at Mike.Deschneau@smsu.edu.

- Image courtesy of the SMSU Web site