Elkins-led D III hockey club headed to nationals


“I knew I was going to Oakland by then, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue my hockey career,” Elkins said.

By Jackson Gilbert

For the first time since the creation of OU’s Division III hockey club eight years ago, the Golden Grizzlies are headed to the National Tournament.

The Grizzlies (24-3-4) sit atop the final ACHA North rankings, meaning that they have earned an automatic qualification to the ACHA National Tournament which will be held from March 11-15 on the campus of Florida Atlantic University, located in Coral Springs, Fla.

This has been a long time coming for the Grizzlies. The team has come close in years past but has never been able to put it all together late in the season. This season marked great improvement for the team, with  contributions coming from from all of their senior leaders.


Leading the charge

At the top of the stat sheet for most of the season, senior forward and captain Collin Elkins has led the Grizzlies through what has easily been their best season to date. Elkins leads the team with 43 points, with 22 goals and 21 assists, good for first and third-best on the team, respectively.

“I knew I was going to Oakland by then, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue my hockey career,” Elkins said.

After one of his games as a senior in high school at Walled Lake Northern, the then-coach of Oakland’s Division I hockey club handed Elkins his business card.


Some time off

Elkins took his first year of college off before getting back in contact with the coaches. He tried out for both of Oakland’s clubs, making the Division III team. It’s a good thing he did.

“Back then it was a bunch of guys just starting out,” he said. “A lot of us have been playing together for four years now, and there are certainly a few characters that I’ll never forget.”

The forward also acknowledged how lucky he’s been to stay healthy throughout his career, minus a few shoulder problems. Elkins could have moved up to the D1 team over his career but says he never felt the need to.

“(He’s) been a great asset to the team on and off the ice,” fellow captain Derek Sulpizio said. “Over the past four years he has been a great offensive weapon and his senior leadership has helped the program to where we are today.” Sulpizio also mentioned that the team usually refers to Collin as “Elky.”

The Grizzlies have been finishing up the regular season in style. They completed a season sweep of longtime rival U-M Flint and are now set to compete in the first round of the MCHC tournament (essentially the local Division III hockey conference) against Adrian College on Feb. 28.

The team will then take part in the ACHA National Championship Tournament March 11-15. 

For more information on Oakland’s Division III hockey club visit the team’s facebook page.