PITTSBURGH – Hockey in western Pennsylvania has seen its share of expansion and growth over the last few years. Aside from the successes of both Men’s and Women’s hockey at Robert Morris and the fact that the NWHL will be playing a game in Pittsburgh for the third straight season, Pittsburgh-area hockey is also expanding at the ACHA level.
Duquesne head coach Conrad Waite announced that the Dukes will be fielding a Division 2 team this season. The D2 Dukes will be playing an independent schedule, with no conference affiliation, that already consists of two games against West Virginia University. Games against the University of Pittsburgh are also possible. Both teams are currently College Hockey Mid America conference opponents of Duquesne’s Division 1 team.
Coach Waite explained via text message that it was precisely this growth of the sport that brought about the formation of the second team.
“We’re trying to grow the program, and having a second team is a natural step in doing so,” says Waite. “We’ve also seen an increase in players trying out and interested in the school over the last few seasons. This was just the first year to take the jump and organize one.”
The Division 2 team will be sharing Alpha Ice Complex as their home with their D1 counterparts, but will play a more regional-based schedule, as most ACHA Division 2 teams do.
Coach Waite is optimistic for the first year of the new team, but acknowledges that there are not a lot of high goals to meet.
“Year 1 will definitely be a developmental year, but the hope and goal is to build on that.”
While the D2 team’s schedule has yet to be set completely, they do have a game at West Virginia scheduled for Saturday, Sept 29, 2018 at 4 p.m. and a home game against the Mountaineers on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019.