By Matt Mackinder/MiCHO Managing Editor
Wayne State hasn’t seen men’s hockey since the nine-year run of the Division I program ended after the 2007-08 season.
This fall, hockey will once again be played at Wayne State, albeit as a club sport at the ACHA level, as Frank DiCristofaro will guide the Warriors from their new home rink at the City Sports Center.
DiCristofaro comes to WSU from the St. Clair Shores Unified High School team where he was co-head coach. He attended a tryout for Wayne State’s D-I team in 2003 and later played Single-A pro hockey in Fraser and Chicago.
Coaching, though, is something that is in DiCristofaro’s blood and he will bring an intense style for Wayne State.
“The process of getting a club team was very thorough,” said DiCristofaro. “Club sports are specifically designated student organizations and in order to be recognized by the university, the teams must obtain various types of insurance and adhere to a comprehensive risk management plan. Club sports are also intended to be a student development tool. All of the organization’s team administration must be completely run by students.”
Looking at WSU’s schedule for next season, on paper it looks pretty tough. That’s a non-issue, according to DiCristofaro, who has a bachelor’s degree from WSU and is presently working on his master’s degree.
“One thing that we have at our advantage is time,” said DiCristofaro. “We were able to go through the proper avenues to get things done and prepare for the season. We were also able to contact many players who had interest and explain to them what it would be about. As a first-year program, it can be challenging to get teams to schedule mostly because of the unknown. With that said, we have a modest outlook, but at the same time, wanted to make sure that we played the best competition that was available to us.”
DiCristofaro said that several players have already given him verbal commitments to play next season, with more expected as the summer months wear on.
“We have had significant interest from players both in the area and from Canada (many students at Wayne State do hail from Ontario),” explained DiCristofaro. “Currently, we have several players committed for next season. We have players from USA and Canadian junior hockey, AAA and high school players and travel players from prominent programs in the area. I do think that we benefit from being in what can be considered a hockey hotbed here in Detroit when it comes to player interest.
“I jumped at the chance to represent my alma mater again. It’s been exciting and I am happy with the direction that we are going.”
Can having an ACHA team perhaps lead to one day having D-I hockey back at Wayne State?
“That is a decision that rests in the Department of Athletics,” said DiCristofaro.