SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Augustana will play the school’s first hockey game this weekend at Wisconsin.
While Augustana competes at the Division II level for every sport up to this point, the new hockey program will play in Division I, which provides the players and coaching staff an opportunity to blaze new trails for the Vikings.
“It’s really something special to be building something from start up,” Augustana freshman forward Hunter Bischoff said. “I think we’re all looking forward to it. And I think it’s something I think we should be really excited about. Not many kids experienced that.”
“We get to write our own story and then build a program that’s going to hopefully do well and compete at the national level,” Augustana fifth year forward Ryan Naumovski said.
The Vikings will be led by head coach Garrett Raboin, who previously served as an assistant at Minnesota and St. Cloud State. His roster consists of 10 freshmen mixed with 13 upperclassmen, including five fifth-year players.
“There was a vision, a belief, an excitement,” Raboin said. “These guys are explorers in a sense. They don’t necessarily know what they signed up for, but they’re excited to run into the storm and they just do it together as a group.”
With their first game just a few days away, the Vikings are looking forward to the bonding experience that the trip will bring.
“Those first trips are always fun,” Augustana senior goaltender Zack Rose said. “Every trip is always fun, and you get to get away. And it’s just the guys. And that’s where a lot of bonding happens, really. To kick off our first, inaugural game against Wisconsin. That’s big time.”
Augie will play its first game in Sioux Falls on Saturday, Oct. 14, against Bowling Green at the Premier Center. It will open the Midco Arena, its on-campus facility, in late January.
“The rink’s going to be amazing,” Naumovski said. “So, I’m excited for that. But Coach Raboin really put in a belief of the whole program, not just myself, so I’m excited.”
The Vikings will play in Sioux Falls 15 times this season. The first five games will be at the Premier Center before Midco Arena opens on Jan. 26.