The Alabama–Huntsville Chargers ice hockey (commonly referred to as the UAH Chargers) are an NCAA Division I college ice hockey program that represents the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers.
The UAH Chargers are one of only two NCAA Division I ice hockey programs in the Sun Belt, the other being Arizona State.
The Chargers play their home games at Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center. In 1987, Alabama governor George Wallace declared Huntsville to be the “Hockey Capital of the South.
Founding and club championships
The UAH ice hockey program began as a club team in the late 1970s. Joe Ritch organized the inaugural Charger team in 1979, and served as head coach. UAH defeated Emory University 11-4 in its first game on October 26, 1979. UAH dominated opposition in its first three seasons, winning three Southern Collegiate Hockey Association championships. The Chargers won the first of their three National Club Hockey Championships in 1982, defeating Southern Methodist 14-2 in the title game.
For the 1982-83 season, Doug Ross became head coach as the Chargers moved to the Central States Collegiate Hockey League. UAH lost the conference championship game in overtime to Marquette, but the Chargers hosted the U.S. National Collegiate Club Hockey Championships, where they defeated Auburn (16-2), Arizona (7-4), and Penn State (5-4) en route to their second consecutive national championship.
UAH hosted the club national championship tournament again in 1984, and the Chargers claimed a third straight title with wins over Miami University (3-1), Indiana (13-4), and Ohio (12-1). UAH hosted the tournament a third time in 1985, but its bid for a fourth straight championship fell short with a 6-2 loss to North Dakota State.
Varsity and Division II championships
UAH elevated the hockey program to varsity status for the 1985-86 season as a member of the NAIA. The school became a full NCAA Division II member in 1986. With no NCAA sponsorship of hockey at the Division II level, UAH moved its program to Division I as an independent beginning with the 1987-88 season. The Chargers went 63-81-8 in their five seasons in Division I. UAH finished with a winning season twice in that span: 1988-89 (15-10-1) and the last season, 1991-92 (18-10-1).
UAH returned to Division II hockey in 1992 with the NCAA resuming sponsorship of a national championship. In 1994, the Chargers hosted its first Division II national championship series, but lost to Bemidji State in overtime of a mini-game tiebreaker. After narrowly missing a chance at the title in 1995, the 1995-96 UAH team went undefeated (26-0-3) in the 1995-96 season and beat Bemidji State 7-1 and 3-0 at the Von Braun Center to claim its first NCAA championship in any sport. The Chargers traveled to Bemidji State for the 1997 finals, losing 4-2 and 3-2. The 1997-98 UAH team claimed its second Division II championship in 1998, beating Bemidji again 6-2 and 5-2 in Huntsville to finish 24-3-3