A new era is dawning at Arcadia University. Beginning this fall the university will put men’s and women’s NCAA Division III varsity hockey teams on the ice. The Knights will play their home games at Hatfield Ice and compete in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference, which includes teams in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.
The 25-game regular season will commence on Halloween Weekend. Several teams in the hockey-only conference, including Arcadia, are members of the Middle Atlantic Conference in other sports, including Wilkes, Lebanon Valley, and Stevenson. Kings, which did not field a team last season, is also part of the MAC.
The Arcadia men’s team is coached by Vincent Pietrangelo a Michigan native who has been on the job since September of 2019. Before coming to Arcadia, he spent three years as an assistant at the SUNY at Canton. Prior to that he was an assistant at Division I Ferris State.
Pietrangelo, who played college hockey at Division III Finlandia University has always wanted to build his own program and embraces the challenges that accompany that, notably in the area of recruiting.
“A startup program isn’t for everybody,” he said. “I guess the one unique thing is, I have a special opportunity for guys to come in and help write the history of something and build something from the ground up.
“So, that’s the kind of players that I’ve been going after, guys pretty much like myself. I took this job on (because) I wanted to start a program from scratch. It’s been my dream job, and I want guys to have that same kind of passion, that are saying ‘I want to be part of something, I want to be one of the founding members and take this program from starting to something great.’”
One challenges Pietrangelo has faced is attracting players who can meet Arcadia’s academic standards.
“Obviously finding kids that meet that academic requirement is something I have to look at,” he said. “But I guess just getting the word out that we are starting a program and having a program was the biggest challenge.
“Year One was just kind of watching kids, letting the hockey world know that Arcadia is starting. I was able to grab five really good kids that were pretty connected in the world and were able to also kind of help me recruit. I did that up until the pandemic hit. That was very challenging, once the pandemic hit, to recruit. instead of being able to meet a player face to face at the rink, I’m having to watch a lot more video and do a lot more phone calls. I’m more of a personal recruiter, I like to be face to face. So, that was kind of a new challenge for me.”
Like all players coming into NCAA hockey. Pietrangelo’s players will have to make some adjustments, and make them in a hurry.
“We practice every day,” he pointed out, which is a very different transition for a lot of my guys that are coming in. They’re used to playing 60 games a year in junior. Now they’re only playing 25 but it’s a lot more taxing than a lot of people think just because every day these student-athletes have to get up and go to class and study.
“They’re in the weight room, then they come to practice. That takes a toll on their bodies. All my guys are coming in at 21 as freshmen. They’ll be playing against some seniors that are 25, 26 years old.”