For years, the world of hockey has been dominated by Canadian teams and players. However, in recent years, a new powerhouse has emerged in the form of the American International College (AIC) Eagles. This small university, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, has been making waves in the world of minor hockey in North America and beyond. With their recent success, the question on everyone’s mind is: Is AIC on the path to becoming the next dynasty in the sport?
The Rise of a Champion
The American International College Eagles may not have a long history in collegiate hockey, but their rise to success has been nothing short of remarkable. Founded in 1940, AIC’s hockey program was not even a Division I team until 1998. Despite this, they have made their presence known in the college hockey world in recent years with a string of impressive seasons.
In 2017, the Eagles made their first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, making it all the way to the Frozen Four. This was a huge achievement for a team from a relatively unknown school in the hockey world. But they were just getting started. In the following season, the Eagles improved on their record and again made it to the NCAA tournament, this time advancing to the quarterfinals.
But it was in the 2019–2020 season that American International College truly made its mark. They had a record-breaking season, winning their first regular-season championship and conference championship titles. They also made their third straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, this time making it to the national semifinals. And although their run was cut short due to the pandemic, AIC had already cemented their place as a team to be reckoned with.
A Culture of Success
So what makes AIC such a dominant force in the world of collegiate hockey? Many credit their success to the culture instilled by head coach Eric Lang. Lang, who took over the program in 2017, has built a team based on hard work, discipline, and a never-give-up attitude.
Under Lang’s leadership, the Eagles have developed a reputation for being a tough and gritty team. They may not have the flashiest players or the biggest names, but their dedication and determination on the ice have made them a formidable opponent for any team.
The team’s success can also be attributed to their strong sense of camaraderie and team spirit. Many players on the roster are from small towns and have come to AIC with a chip on their shoulder, looking to prove themselves. This has created a tight-knit group that is willing to work hard for each other and has helped foster a winning culture.
Breaking Barriers and Changing Perceptions
AIC’s success has not only put them on the map in the world of college hockey but has also helped break stereotypes about what it takes to be a top-tier team. Historically, top programs have been dominated by players from Canada or the northern United States, but AIC has shown that success can come from anywhere.
Their roster is made up of players from all over the world, with representation from countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and even Australia. This diversity has not only helped break down barriers in the sport but has also made AIC a truly global team.
Furthermore, AIC’s success has also started to change perceptions of the level of talent in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, where they compete. Often overshadowed by other powerhouse conferences such as the Big Ten or Hockey East, AIC’s rise to prominence has shown that there is plenty of talent and competitiveness in the Atlantic Hockey Conference.
Looking Ahead: A Dynasty in the Making?
With their recent success, it is no surprise that many are beginning to wonder if AIC is on their way to becoming the next dynasty in collegiate hockey. However, it is important to remember that sustained success in sports is never a given.
Next season, the Eagles will face new challenges as they defend their championship titles and continue to prove themselves among the top teams in the country. They will also say goodbye to a talented senior class, leaving big shoes to fill for the rising players on the roster.
But regardless of what lies ahead, one thing is for certain: AIC has already established itself as a force to be reckoned with in college hockey. And with the strong foundation and winning culture that Coach Lang has built, the future looks bright for the AIC Eagles.