NCAA hockey

Cam Talbot, supporters trying to save Alabama-Huntsville hockey program

The lights may not be out just yet on the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s hockey program.

Days after the school announced it was cutting men’s and women’s tennis, as well as hockey, the opportunity was presented to give the team one more season and the chance to find private funding.

That fundraising goal? $1 million by the end of this week.

“[School president Darren Dawson] did make us a verbal commitment that if you get to that number, we’ll make it happen,” former UAH player Sheldon Wolitski told AL.com. “We’re hoping he’s going to honor his word. We were asking for a formal statement from him to say that. It would be a shame to put all this effort and we raise it and he doesn’t follow through.”

Dawson and athletic director Cade Smith announced last week that the program, which goes back 41 years, was ending due to budget problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hockey in Huntsville has been around since the late 70s and it’s really grown,” said Jared Ross, who played four years at UAH and whose dad coached the team for 25 years. “You look at the kids around the rink and how it’s impacted them. You see them out on the ice skating during the intermission and cleaning up the snow. It’s had a huge impact on the growth of hockey in Huntsville.”

Wolitski and another former player promised $300,00 toward the $1 million goal. A GoFundMe has raised over $260,000 as of Thursday morning toward the short-term goal of $500,000.

From the fundraising page:

For short term we are looking to raise $500,000 of the 1 million via this Go Fund Me account. If the required funds are raised, UAH has agreed to create an advisory board consisting of hockey alumni, local business leaders and major donors to help turn UAH Hockey into a world class hockey program.

That campaign has been given a signal boost by the program’s most famous alum, Flames goaltender Cam Talbot, who played for the team from 2007-10.

“The program meant a lot to me,” Talbot told NHL.com’s WIlliam Douglas. “I never thought that it would really kind of grow to allow me to live out my dream like I am now. I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity if I didn’t end up in Alabama.”

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WCHA’s Alabama-Huntsville cuts hockey program

Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials said athletes in those sports who want to join another team’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. If they choose to stay, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of their academic careers.

Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.

Men’s hockey had been the lone Division I sport for Alabama-Huntsville. It competes at the Division II level in all other sports.

Blackhawks, Ian Mitchell agree to entry-level contract

1 Comment

CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to an entry-level contract with defenseman Ian Mitchell, one of their top prospects.

The team announced the three-year deal on Monday. The start date and average annual value is up in the air because the NHL season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mitchell joins a promising group of young defensemen that includes 19-year-old Adam Boqvist, a first-round pick in the 2018 draft. Nicolas Beaudin, who doesn’t turn 21 until October, also could be a factor as soon as next season.

Mitchell, 21, was selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2017 draft. He was a first-team All-American during his junior year at the University of Denver, collecting 10 goals and 22 assists during the regular season. He also served as team captain.

He finished his career with the Pioneers with 18 goals and 71 assists in 116 games.

PHT Morning Skate: Flames land top NCAA free agent; Rielly wins in transition

Flames land NCAA free agent Connor Mackey, Colton Poolman, Morning Skate
Getty Images
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Flames recently signed two NCAA players to bolster their defense: Connor Mackey and Colton Poolman. Frank Seravalli goes into detail on the Flames’ “two-year pursuit” of Mackey. Seravalli deemed Mackey the No. 1 NCAA free agent available this spring, making Mackey quite the get for the Flames. (TSN)

• Oilers GM Ken Holland spoke with Mark Spector about resolving the situation with Jesse Puljujarvi, which will be a challenge whenever there’s an actual chance to address it. In that same piece, Ken Hitchcock praised Puljujarvi as at least a useful third-line type player, while admitting he isn’t sure Puljujarvi will end up being more than that. (Sportsnet)

• Lou Lamoriello answered fan questions on the Islanders website, which meant a lot of Lou-like non-answers, sometimes comically so. (Yes, he even briefly discussed his fascination with lower jersey numbers.) Later on Sunday, we’ll ponder Lamoriello saying the Islanders would match a Mathew Barzal offer sheet. There’s other noteworthy information, though. The Islanders expect Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas back if play resumes this season/playoffs, while Adam Pelech should be ready for training camp before 2020-21. (Islanders)

• Could the Penguins actually keep their first-round pick from the Jason Zucker trade if the season isn’t completed? Pensburgh goes over that, and in doing so, lays out some of the tricky questions the NHL would face if COVID-19 forces more than just a pause for 2019-20. (Pensburgh)

• Helene St. James hands out best and worst awards for the Red Wings. In doing so, St. James posits that Justin Abdelkader will be waived and sent to the AHL in 2020-21. (Detroit Free-Press)

• Steve Simmons went looking for a phone number in an old phonebook, and found himself pausing to remember several names from the past. (Steve Simmons)

• How Malcolm Subban and Brendan Perlini could make strange history for the Blackhawks. Could Subban end up having the shortest “career” with the Blackhawks ever? (Chicago Sun-Times)

• Andrew Berkshire takes a look at defensemen who excel at that transition game, with Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly leading the pack. (Sportsnet)

• Fun 2020 NHL Draft angle from McKeen’s Hockey: the most polarizing prospect from each region, starting with Antonio Stranges in the OHL. (McKeen’s Hockey)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

10 finalists for Hobey Baker Award revealed

Getty Images

The Hobey Baker Award is one of the most prestigious honors an NCAA hockey player could receive.

On Wednesday, 10 candidates for the award given to the top player in college hockey were revealed. Three finalists will be announced on April 2nd, and the winner will be publicized on April 10th.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar won the award last year and has had an instant impact this season until the NHL Pause. The college hockey season was canceled on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ten finalists were selected by voting from all 60 Division I college hockey head coaches plus online fan balloting per HobeyBaker.com. Criteria for the award include: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements. Six of the 10 finalists have already been drafted by NHL teams

In alphabetical order, the players are:

Morgan Barron, Jr., F, Cornell
Jason Cotton, Sr., F, Sacred Heart
Jack Dugan, So., F, Providence
David Farrance, Jr., D, Boston University
Jordan Kawaguchi, Jr., F, North Dakota
John Leonard, Jr., F, Massachusetts
Dryden McKay, So., G, Minnesota State
Marc Michaelis, Sr., F, Minnesota State
Scott Perunovich, Jr., D, Minnesota Duluth
Jeremy Swayman, Jr., G, Maine


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.