Muhlenberg Ice Hockey
Program History

 

 

 

Records from early years are very sparse. The best that can be discerned is that Muhlenberg first put together a club team in the late 1960s. Founded by Bill Bilinkas '73 and Lyle Allan '73, the first season appears to have been 1969-1970. The team existed somewhat consistently through the 1970s and 80s. During this time the Mules skated out of the former Ice Palace (Al-Beth). Games were a mix of men's league and other college teams. The Mules put together an extraordinary effort in those early days and managed to go undefeated through their first four years of existence. For unknown reasons, the program seems to have vanished in the early 1990s.

In the fall of 1995 a group of three sophomores, Darryl Arnold '98, Marko Kipa '98, and Jason Weiss '98, along with the assistance of athletics business manager Sam Beidleman '63 and faculty advisor Dr. Albert Kipa, revived the program. Play resumed in the spring of 1996. From this point forward the Mules would only play against other college club teams. The following season, 1996-1997 saw the Mules move from the Ice Palace to the Lehigh Valley Ice Arena in Whitehall.

The Mules were coached by Dale Knepp during the 1999-2000 season, and Coach Knepp led the team to a league championship. In 2000, college chaplain Peter Bredlau became involved with the team as an advisor and a coach. In 2001 he was joined by Darryl Arnold '98 as an assistant. Their efforts, along with those of many dedicated players and parents saw the program begin to solidify and grow. After several successful seasons in the local college league, the Mules went looking for a greater challenge.

2004 was a year full of change. Muhlenberg joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) as a Division III program and began competing in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference (DVCHC) at the DIII level. That year Bredlau became the program's first General Manager and Arnold took over Head Coaching responsibilities. A move to a new home rink was made as well to the Flyers Skate Zone located in South Bethlehem.

For the 2005-2006 season, the Mules moved up to become a Division II member of the ACHA. They also moved back to their old rink at the Lehigh Valley Ice Arena, now The Rink at Lehigh Valley, in Whitehall. They remained a member of the DVCHC, but competed at the DII level. The new conference consisted of Franklin & Marshall, LaSalle, The College of New Jersey, Millersville, and Scranton. After a rough start they went on to beat or tie every team in the league, making to the playoffs and losing to eventual champion Scranton by one goal in the semifinals. In addition, this season saw the birth of Centennial Conference Hockey, the first ever coming together of CC schools on the ice. Dubbed the "Centennial Cup," 'Berg played host to Johns Hopkins, Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall, and Washington. Playing a tough schedule of 5 games in just two days the Mules defeated F&M 6-2 in the finals to earn a place in history as the first Centennial Cup Champions.

In the spring of 2006, the Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference was born. The GNCHC was founded by its own "original six", previous members of the DVCHC. In addition to Muhlenberg College, these included the University of Scranton, the College of New Jersey, Millersville University, Franklin & Marshall College, and LaSalle University. The GNCHC competes at the Division II level within the ACHA.

The 2006-2007 season was history making for the Mules. Muhlenberg Ice Hockey closed out what had been the most successful season in the program's history with a win over the Rowan Professors to win the first Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship.

Muhlenberg Ice Hockey continued its competitive play during the 2007-2008 season. The Mules made it to the Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference semifinals and, in a rematch of the previous year's championship game, lost to the eventual GNCHC champion Rowan.

The 2008-2009 season was filled with excitement. The Mules returned to the Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference Championship finals after incredible conference play that included only one loss. While Muhlenberg Ice Hockey lost in overtime to champion University of Scranton, the close-knit team represented Muhlenberg proudly on and off the ice.

The team again made the playoffs for the 2009-2010 season, losing in the first round to Millersville.

The 2010-2011 season again saw the Mules qualify for the playoffs.  This time as a one seed.  They advanced all the way to the championship game.  There they were beat in overtime by NJIT in a very tight game.

From its humble beginnings five decades ago, Muhlenberg Ice Hockey has withstood the test of time to become a successful and popular program. As we look to the future we see only brightness.