Tag: Big Ten hockey conference

Jake McCabe, Frank Simonelli, Hudson Fasching

NCAA on NBCSN: No. 15 Wisconsin hosts Colorado College

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 college hockey season tonight when the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (6-5-1) host the Colorado College Tigers (2-10-3) at Kohl Center with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also catch the game online at NBC Sports Live Extra

The road hasn’t been joyful for the Wisconsin Badgers this season. They were trounced by Boston University giving up 16 goals in two games at the start of the season. They’ve split with Miami and were swept by Minnesota.

Fortunately for them, they’re back at the friendly confines of the Kohl Center in Madison when they host Colorado College this weekend in an interconference battle.

The Badgers have gotten solid play from the guys you’d expect to do it. Senior forward Michael Mersch (Los Angeles) and sophomore Nic Kerdiles (Anaheim) lead the team in points and junior defenseman Jake McCabe (Buffalo) is right up there with them. While Mersch and Kerdiles handle the goal scoring, senior forward Mark Zengerle has been the playmaker leading the team with 11 assists.

Wisconsin has a top-heavy attack, however, with most of their points coming from those players. One area they’ll need more consistency from is in goal where juniors Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel have split time. Rumpel has been the better of the two this season, but Peterson has had two more starts.

Wisconsin able to get things turned around last weekend sweeping Penn State at home after losing three of their previous four games. Going up against a Colorado College team that’s had its share of troubles this year provides one of those classic opportunities to keep things going in the right direction.

Colorado College has had a rough start to their season, to say the least. With just two wins in their first 15 games, it’s been a brutal start for the Tigers with a schedule that’s featured some of this season’s best teams early on (Clarkson, Denver, St. Cloud, New Hampshire).

If there’s a positive lately it’s that they scored a win and a tie last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. In a season that’s had struggles like this, it’s a veritable winning streak.

Their biggest issues this season has been the lack of offense. The team’s three leading scorers each have just seven points.

Freshmen forward Alex Roos and defenseman Jaccob Slavin (Carolina) have been positives while senior Alexander Krushelnyski (son of former King and Oiler Mike) is the other scoring leader. Freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson (Minnesota) has had a nice start to his college career with two goals and four points.

The rest of the team? It’s been tough sledding to get goals and the goaltending from senior Josh Thorimbert has been steady but not game-saving.  If the Tigers can slow down the Badgers top line, they’ll be right in the mix. Dealing with the intense crowd on the road could present them with a whole other set of issues.

NHL Draftees

Wisconsin — Forwards: Michael Mersch (SR – Kings), Nic Kerdiles (SO – Ducks), Joseph LaBate (JR – Canucks), Grant Beese (FR – Ducks), Jedd Soleway (FR – Coyotes), Brad Navin (FR – Sabres)

Defenseman: Jake McCabe (JR – Sabres), Joe Faust (SR – Devils), Eddie Witchow (SO – Panthers)

Colorado College — Forward: Hunter Fejes (SO – Coyotes)

Defense: Jaccob Slavin (FR – Hurricanes), Gustav Olofsson (FR – Wild), Aaron Harsted (JR – Jets), Peter Stoykewych (JR – Jets)

Back to Class: Defending champion BC taking care of business early

Johnny Gaudreau, Isaac MacLeod, Pat Mullane

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday night November 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET, as Cornell takes on Harvard.

When Boston College dropped their first game of the year, a 3-1 road loss to Northeastern, it was enough to knock them out of their preseason No. 1 ranking in the polls. After returning to No. 1 last week, the Eagles could’ve found themselves in a trap against last season’s NCAA tournament surprise team and Hockey East rival UMass-Lowell this weekend.

Instead, BC swept the weekend earning a 1-0 win in Lowell on Friday and a 6-3 decision at home on Sunday. Now that they’re on track and riding a four-game winning streak, BC next heads off to Orono on Friday for a battle against early season disappointment Maine and follow that with a rematch against UMass at home on Sunday.

Jerry York’s club best not get caught looking ahead to what sets up for an early-season throwdown with Notre Dame the following week. With the play of sophomore Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary) and senior Pat Mullane (undrafted), Maine and UMass will have their hands full.


Butt-whooping of the weekend: Frozen Four semifinalists Union College got to stretch their legs on Friday night taking out a hapless American International team 8-0. The Dutchmen must’ve tired themselves out as they merely drew a 2-2 tie against UConn the following night. Union had better be ready to go this weekend as they’ve got a home-and-home set with local rivals RPI.

CCHA going out in style: It’s the final year of the conference as everyone is heading for either the Big Ten or NCHC, but Michigan and Miami made this weekend worthwhile as the teams split their games over the weekend. Michigan won Friday night’s tilt 4-2 while the Redhawks won a 4-3 thriller on Saturday. Let’s hope these two hockey powers keep it up all year long.

New home on the range: Nebraska-Omaha earned approval for a new on-campus rink. With the Mavericks headed to the NCHC next season, a new building and a new big-time conference will help coach Dean Blais sell that program even more.

Black Knights bounce back: Sure, Army lost to the new kids on the block, Penn State, 5-0 last week — but they bounced back big this weekend thumping Holy Cross 7-2. That makes a nice gift to coach Brian Riley for his 100th career win.

College hockey: Notre Dame set to join Hockey East in 2013-2014

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

College hockey’s ever-changing landscape this summer had another shoe fall today as Notre Dame announced they’ll be leaving the CCHA and joining Hockey East starting in the 2013-2014 season.

Notre Dame’s move doesn’t come as a surprise as the CCHA was losing schools in 2013-2014 thanks to the development of both the Big Ten Hockey Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in that season. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Miami University, and Western Michigan are all headed for new homes in those conferences while Bowling Green will be going to the rebuilt WCHA.

The NCHC announced the other day that they would be starting their season in 2013 with just eight teams and not expanding any further, shutting the door on the Fighting Irish. Hockey East was also in pursuit of Notre Dame and won out. The payoff for Hockey East is that Notre Dame will be arriving with a television deal in place with NBC Sports Network to carry Notre Dame home games beginning in that season. Getting a national television deal in college hockey is a game-changer as there’s not much in the way of national cable TV coverage for the sport (ESPN and CBS College Sports also have smaller deals). Notre Dame being able to bring the NBC name to college hockey helps in a big way.

Hockey East is now set to have 11 teams starting in the 2013-2014 season. A conference with an odd number of teams is rare (the CCHA is currently at 11) which means that Hockey East is likely on the prowl for a 12th team. There are a number of candidates ranging from Rensselaer and Quinnipiac in the ECAC to Connecticut, Holy Cross, and Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey Association. For more thoughts on that, Rensselaer hockey fan blog Without A Peer has that discussion covered.

For now, Notre Dame joining Hockey East is the last huge move to be made after seeing the carnage that’s happened this offseason. Notre Dame with coach Jeff Jackson brings a lot of clout to an already loaded conference and bringing the national stage courtesy of NBC Sports Network helps make Hockey East perhaps the preeminent college hockey conference starting in 20

NCAA hockey going with new “super conferences” a dangerous route to take

Minnesota Duluth hockey team

With college hockey becoming more well known to mainstream sports fans with the proliferation of the Frozen Four and more games appearing on cable TV, many people around the NCAA feel like it’s their time to seize the day. The first shot in this happened when Terry Pegula gave Penn State $80 million to help start the varsity program there that will begin play in 2012.

Penn State joining the varsity ranks helped give rise to the Big Ten Conference in hockey, a group that will pull teams out of both the CCHA and WCHA to form their own little party as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State will team up with Penn State to form their own league.

That drastic move that awaits in a few years meant that the WCHA lost two of their biggest earning and drawing teams and the CCHA essentially lost their lifeline with the two Michigan schools. Everyone else that will be left behind in 2013-2014 when the Big Ten comes to order would be left trying to figure out what in the world they’re going to do. As it turns out, six schools figured things out on their own and will form a “super conference” of their own that will see North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Western Michigan, and Miami University form the Collegiate Hockey Conference that will start in 2013-2014 as well.

Left on the outside looking in are the rest of the teams from the soon-to-be-defunct WCHA and CCHA (St. Cloud, Mankato State, Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Western Michigan, Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage; Alabama-Huntsville is already independent) with a future that is uncertain at best. Ryan Lambert from Yahoo’s! Puck Daddy says that the start-up of this new conference along with the Big Ten Conference means that pain is on the way to those who are left behind.

What they’ve essentially done is left other programs for dead. Far be it for me to advocate a welfare system in college hockey, but what the hell, one has existed for years anyway. The NCAA has been giving autobids to shall-we-say undeserving conferences for years, and how much good has it done them? Next to none. Teams and conferences have been folding left and right in the last few years, and no one seems particularly concerned about the state of the sport at the college except for people who want to write weepy eulogies to teams no one cared about at relatively small schools that can’t support the team without the money brought in by bigger teams. Imagine what a weekend’s worth of gate receipts against Minnesota or NoDak means to teams like Michigan Tech.

By creating this new conference, the six teams are ensuring their own insulation from the fallout created by the Big Ten by shoving smaller teams into its path.

On the opposite side of this view, there are those that think by doing things this way that college hockey can become more of a draw for television and that by breaking everyone into this odd sort of caste system will make life better for those who are able to keep up. Minnesota-Duluth radio play-by-play man and former Fanhouse writer Bruce Ciskie makes his case for why this isn’t the death knell for college hockey.

It’s a chance for the schools in Minnesota and upper Michigan to build new rivalries that will excite the fans. It’s a chance for all of them to get into a situation where they are battling peer schools for recruits, as opposed to trying to recruit against North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan.

We could end up not losing programs, giving more teams a real chance of making the NCAA Tournament, and we are setting up a league structure that allows for future expansion if it becomes feasible for someone to add the sport. If this scenario plays out, tell me how this isn’t a good thing for college hockey, a sport that simply needs to find ways to expand.

The possibilities are there for this pan out well and pay off for college hockey, but by creating groups of “haves” and “have nots” which is what this new set up will do is dangerous for a sport that’s both expensive for schools to budget and one without a definitive television presence to help pay the bills. With these conferences all breaking off and doing their own thing, doing so and seemingly having it happen without regard to the schools struggling to stay afloat isn’t wise.

College hockey is the ultimate niche in what’s a niche sport as it is. With the NHL being fourth among the professional sports and college hockey being on very few radars, potentially losing programs to send players to reeks of cutting off the nose to spite the face. You can argue about the merits of the schools that might fail and disappear (Bowling Green and Alabama-Huntsville top the short list) but in a world that sees the number of FBS football programs slowly increasing and the number of D-I college basketball programs on the rise as well, having programs fail and reduce the playing field is brutally unwise.

Perhaps things will work out the way Ciskie sees it and things will work for the betterment of the game and see a rise in the number of programs and a rise in attention for the sport, but with so many things up in the air right now it’s hard to believe that smaller schools can withstand the blow of losing all of their big money conference rivals. Creating a second class in a sport that needs all the help it can get is a dicey proposition. For college hockey fans and supporters, they’ll have to wait to find out who’s right in the end. Here’s to hoping those in charge have their act together and aren’t looking for the neck-saving cash grab.

NCAA hockey shake-up: Six top schools set to form ‘super conference’ in 2013-14

Image (1) ncaa-logo-thumb-250x244-15806-thumb-250x244-15807.jpg for post 2733

From the look of things, the landscape of college hockey could be markedly different by the time the 2013-14 season begins.

It already seemed that way when the Big Ten Conference was announced; Minnesota and Wisconsin will leave the WCHA while Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State will leave the CCHA and Penn State will get its program together to form the foundation of that conference. Now that point will be driven home even further after the announcement of a so-called super-conference that will put six college hockey juggernauts together. Those six colleges includes reigning 2011 NCAA champions Minnesota Duluth along with Colorado College, Denver, Miami of Ohio, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota. Five of those teams will bolt from the WCHA while Miami of Ohio will shift from the CCHA.

One program that didn’t seem to join either of the big new conferences was Notre Dame, but perhaps there will be more information about its future (along with the remaining teams in the WCHA and CCHA) as time goes on.

Here is a statement from the six schools who will form that not-yet-named “super conference.”

We are pleased to announce that six top NCAA Division I ice hockey programs will become founding members of a newly formed hockey conference, which will begin competition for the 2013-14 season. The six institutions are Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha and University of North Dakota.

We understand and appreciate the widespread interest in developments relating to the formation of the new hockey conference. More information will be provided about the initiatives that have been undertaken, as well as the next steps involved, at a news conference in Colorado Springs this Wednesday, July 13. Our programs look forward to continued associations with our current leagues, the WCHA and CCHA, for the next two seasons.

Additional information about Wednesday’s news conference will be forthcoming in the next few days. There will be no further comment from athletic directors, coaches or other officials from any of the institutions until Wednesday’s news conference.

We will provide more insight and analysis on these changes in the near future.