Lehigh men's ice hockey team group photo

The Lehigh men's ice hockey team celebrates with the AJ Ruth Memorial Cup after winning its first ever Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association championship.

From Nationally Ranked to ECHA Champion, Lehigh Men's Hockey Reaches New Heights

The hockey program was ranked as high as 23rd this season and won the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association championship.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Rachael Kelly


For the first time in the program’s 85-year existence, according to coach Josh Hand, Lehigh’s Division 1 men’s club ice hockey team earned national recognition as well as an Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA) championship.

Finishing with a 22-7-3 record, the best in school history, Lehigh was at one point ranked 23rd by the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), its first ever national ranking. And in its first ECHA conference playoffs since the 2019-20 season, Lehigh topped Villanova, 3-1, on Friday, regular season champ West Chester, 4-3, in overtime on Saturday and finally, William Patterson, 4-1, on Sunday to hoist the AJ Ruth Memorial Cup.

Michael Grise handles puck

Lehigh's Michael Grise corrals the puck along the boards in a game played earlier this year. (Holly Fasching ’26)

It’s the program’s first title since 1942, when Lehigh beat Penn, 3-2, winning the Eastern Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Hockey League.

The Mountain Hawks joined the ECHA, a conference that also includes Temple, Navy, Towson and George Mason, in 1996.

Hand says going into the season he knew they had a strong first-year class to pair with a talented roster of returning players but predicting success is difficult because each season is so different. He’s confident that the team will continue to build on the created momentum.

Kenny Burgess in net

Goaltender Kenny Burgess helped Lehigh go 22-7-3, setting a record for best season in school history for the club. (Holly Fasching ’26)

“Next year is looking really good,” Hand says. “We will lose [to graduation] a significant number of impact players that have helped grow this program to the level of earning it national attention. The program’s success is a direct reflection of how hard they have worked. But we have a fantastic freshman class coming in as the result of the recruiting efforts of my assistant coaches, in particular, Matt Phillipes, who has been with the program for the last two years. Hopefully these new players pick up where our graduating players have left off and continue to find success.”

Read more stories on the Lehigh News Center.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Rachael Kelly


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