The city of Columbus will add another feather to its hockey-cap when it hosts the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Championships in March of 2017 and 2018, it was announced at the ACHA Convention in Naples, Florida last month.
The ACHA, a member of USA Hockey and an organization of over 430 college and university affiliated hockey programs, will make history when all five of its divisions (Men’s Divisions 1, 2 and 3 and Women’s Divisions 1 and 2) will host their national championships together in Columbus.
The ACHA Nationals, which will be held from Mar. 9-19, 2017, will bring more than 80 teams and 1,600 players from across the country to compete in over 100 games at the OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rinks and the OhioHealth Ice Haus at Nationwide Arena.
“When you’re talking about 108 hockey games in a week at four different locations and 84 teams, nothing is ever going to be perfect— but Columbus is pretty darn close,” ACHA executive director Michael Walley told BlueJackets.com. “We’re trying something different, and I think the ACHA will be put on the map after this event in Columbus.”
Walley said there are a few key factors that make Columbus a great host for the tournament: the central location, facilities, thriving downtown and support of the city and the Blue Jackets.
“Our organization is proud to have celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2016 and will take the next step of uniting all five of our divisions’ national championships in one location in 2017,” said Walley. “Columbus is a rising hockey destination, centrally located to our membership, with so much to offer our players, coaches, and fans."
“The opportunity to host this national championship is just the latest example of Columbus’ reputation as a maturing hockey market and appealing event destination,” said J.D. Kershaw, Blue Jackets Vice President of Marketing. “The Chillers’ numerous and well-equipped facilities offer the perfect setup for the ACHA to stage all five championships together for the first time.”
Among the positive economic impacts of the event, an estimated 3,000 hotel room nights are expected to be generated. Dates for 2018 are yet to be scheduled.
But, above all else, the goal is to help grow the sport of hockey in Columbus and beyond — and hosting national tournaments such as this one is another step in the right direction.
“The biggest thing is we are a 501(c) and we do this for the kids,” Walley said. “There’s going to be 1,600 student-athletes here from all across the country from 84 colleges and they’re going to have an experience that they never thought they would have playing ACHA hockey.”