DIII hockey club making presence felt nationally



Sitting first place in the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference’s East Division with only a couple weeks remaining before the playoffs, the DIII Golden Grizzlies are rolling at 9-0 within the conference. The MCHC has 15 teams.

The team has also been ranked No. 1 at several points this season in DIII in the entire American Collegiate Hockey Association, which includes more than 60 schools.

OU’s Division I team plays in the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League.

The DIII team’s 22-7 overall record is somewhat misleading, as the team has suffered several shootout losses and one-goal losses. All things considered, Coach Troy Barron is impressed with this year’s team.

“It’s taken four years to put this team together … we’re not taking the best kids, we’re taking the right kids,” he said.

Leading the way for the Grizzlies is senior forward Collin Elkins, who has 20 goals and 20 assists, leading the team in points at 40.

Zac Massa, Alexander Zakucia and Matthew Zuelch have also had strong campaigns, each amassing over thirty points on the season.

The group, led by upperclassmen, has sort of grown up together.

“Coach Barron has done an unbelievable job,” Elkins said. “Four years ago, there were barely enough guys to get out on the ice, and now we’re one of the best teams in the country.”

And just because they’re D3, doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk, either.

Oakland has already beaten Michigan State once this year and also split a series with University of Detroit Mercy, only losing in a shootout.

OU won the other game 12-3.

In September, Oakland traveled to Cincinnati to participate in a tournament hosted by Xavier, matching up against the University of Mississippi, Missouri State and even an old basketball rival, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Then, in November, the team travelled to Florida for a tournament featuring teams Central and South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and South Carolina.

OU ended up winning the tournament, outscoring its opponents 26-13 in just four games.

Interestingly, Barron mentioned that these games drew huge crowds, much larger than games in the northern states because there just isn’t that much hockey to watch in the South.

OU is hoping to stay near the top of the North rankings, as the top two teams get automatic bids into the National Tournament. If that can happen, Elkins believes the team should set its expectations high.

“Obviously, anybody’s goal is to win the championship, I’d say our team has absolutely the best chance.”

Oakland takes the ice next against the University of Micigan-Flint at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, at the Detroit Skating Club, its home rink.