UMBC Ice Hockey was established in 1988 by several UMBC students interested in continuing their athletic careers through college. The first year consisted of only a few ice slots and games, though it was critical for building the foundation of the program. In 1989 the student leaders pursued university status and funding, receiving marginal funds to help support payments for practices and games. 1989-90 was UMBC Ice Hockey's first full season.
In the early 1990's UMBC Ice Hockey assisted in founding the Mason-Dixon Collegiate Hockey League (MDCHL). The league consisted of teams primarily from the Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. region. At the same time, program leadership began to mature, and we were awarded with progressively larger budgets from the UMBC Student Government Association. Our program developed into a consistent contender in the MDCHL competing in multiple playoffs, semifinals and a championship appearance.
In 1999 team leadership decided to move the program into the Mid-Atlantic Conference Hockey Association (MACHA) to pursue stronger competition. UMBC chose the New Jersey based league for its competitive reputation and tradition of sending teams to the ACHA National Playoffs. The first few years were spent adjusting to the competition and recruiting to add more depth.
The Athletic Department began taking notice of the program's efforts to improve and attract high quality recruits. UMBC Athletics made a strategic decision in 2003 that would help solidify the financial base of the program for years to come. The Athletic Department moved the hockey budget under their auspices and have continued to be integral supporters of our program. This benefit is unusual at the ACHA level, and has enabled our team leadership to build the infrastructure and amenities required to attract and retain high caliber student-athletes.
In 2010, UMBC made a breakthrough in qualifying for ACHA Nationals. In their first trip to Nationals, the Retrievers advanced all the way to the National Semifinals. UMBC has made return trips to ACHA Nationals in 2011, 2012 and 2014; along with a second National Semifinal appearance in 2014.
UMBC Ice Hockey is indebted to the 'early pioneers' of the program, commitment of current program leadership, and the strong support from the UMBC Athletic Department. We continue to grow and improve each year.