One team is the defending NCAA champion. The other has dominated its league for three years. For as much as UMass’ rise to ultimate glory defied decades of losing, the renaissance of AIC hockey has been at least as amazing. As the only Division I sport at a Division II school, the Yellow Jackets set NCAA records for losing over a period of more than 20 years, and even considered dropping the sport, before Lang showed up to expand recruiting and insist there was reason for hope.
In 2019, AIC won its first title in the Atlantic Hockey conference. It has won the last three, and its 2-1 NCAA tournament victory over No. 1 seed St. Cloud State in 2019 is widely considered the biggest upset in the history of college hockey.
Perhaps the most relevant compliment the Yellow Jackets have earned is that even though they are facing the NCAA champion this weekend, competitive hockey is expected and an victory by AIC, while still an upset, should not be deemed impossible. The full story is available as a subscriber exclusive on MassLive.