Monday, August 29, 2011

NCHC headquarters to be housed in Colorado Springs

The new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which will begin competition in the 2013-14 season, announced today that it will locate its headquarters office in Colorado Springs.

The athletic directors of the Conference's six founding institutions accepted an invitation from El Pomar Foundation and determined the Conference's first commissioner and staff will operate all functions of league administration from the Colorado Springs office in the Copper Building (1631 Mesa Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO, 80906), adjacent to the grounds of the world-famous Broadmoor Hotel. The conference's six founding members are Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, 2011 NCAA champion University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha and University of North Dakota.

"El Pomar founders Spencer and Julie Penrose were enthusiastic supporters of college hockey in Colorado Springs and the trustees of El Pomar are pleased to honor that legacy by supporting the National Collegiate Hockey Conference as it establishes a headquarters here," said William J. Hybl, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of El Pomar Foundation. "Colorado Springs benefits greatly from the presence of numerous sports-related organizations and we believe this new endeavor will add to an already important economic component of our city."

"We are very grateful to Bill Hybl and El Pomar Foundation for their enthusiastic interest in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference," said Brian Faison, Director of Athletics at North Dakota. "The Foundation's track record of support for higher education, nonprofits and amateur sports has been exemplary, and we are proud to be working with them to provide the best collegiate hockey competition in the country. It's an ideal setting with unmatched advantages that will create a perfect environment for everything we hope to achieve and to represent."

Colorado Springs is a popular location for sports organization headquarters including the United States Olympic Committee, U.S. Paralympics, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and 21 national sports governing bodies.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Five CCHA schools offered WCHA spots

Five CCHA member institutions - the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University and Western Michigan University - have been extended invitations to join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the 2013-14 season.

The offer was made today on behalf of the presidents of the six WCHA teams that will comprise Western Collegiate Hockey Association membership following the 2012-13 season. It comes on the heels of a meeting with representatives of the 11 schools from the two leagues on August 23 in Chicago.

As it stands currently, the six teams that will constitute the WCHA following the 2012-13 season are University of Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, St. Cloud State University and Northern Michigan University, which accepted an offer to join the WCHA beginning in 2013-14 back on July 20.

As a condition of this potential membership process moving forward, the WCHA-member presidents set a 30-day response timeline for acceptance. The WCHA and CCHA have also agreed to continue to hold regular talks to address such topics as by-laws, scheduling, tournament scenarios, finances and additional membership.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A cringe-worthy time for college teams in race for top talent

It might be time for us to get out some asterisks or some other notation for our list of college hockey-related players selected in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

That’s because in the give and take that is the often tenuous relationship between college hockey and major juniors, there has been an awful lot of giving by the NCAA side lately.

The top three names on that list have recently either left college for the CHL or pulled their college commitment to head to major juniors.

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, the 14th pick in June’s draft by Dallas, left Northeastern after one season to sign with Saginaw.

Forward J.T. Miller, who was on his way to North Dakota in the fall, instead is headed to Plymouth after being picked 15th by the New York Rangers.

Connor Murphy has backed out of his commitment to Miami and will play next season for Sarnia. The defenseman was the 20th pick by Phoenix.

It doesn’t end there. Goaltender John Gibson, the 39th overall pick by Anaheim, was headed to Michigan until he changed course and signed with Kitchener, leading to this deliberate, one-sentence statement issued by Wolverines coach Red Berenson: “John Gibson has decided not to attend the University of Michigan or to play college hockey.”

And forward Reid Boucher joined Murphy with Sarnia, ending his commitment to Michigan State. He was a fourth-round pick, No. 99 overall, by New Jersey.

That’s five of the top 23 once-college-related picks in the draft gone to major juniors.

We don’t always track the comings and goings of players before they actually reach campus, but when things start to become trends, it’s time to pay attention.

It’s enticing to wonder whether college hockey’s summer of upheaval has given those on the major juniors side some marketing material, especially when you consider that four of the five college teams impacted by those moves will be on the move in 2013 (North Dakota, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State). But you’d hope that the schools would have had some rebuttal, given how adamant they’ve been that the conference shift will be for the better for their side.

That’s not the only part of the issue, of course, and I’m still a believer that we shouldn’t use broad strokes with the college-versus-major junior debate. College is right for some players; major junior is right for others. When talent departs in a group like we’ve seen in the past weeks, however, it’s cringe-worthy for anyone on the college side of things.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ohio St., Michigan to meet outdoors

CLEVELAND -- The bitter Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is about to get really icy.

The two schools will play an outdoor hockey game at Progressive Field -- home of the Cleveland Indians -- on Sunday, Jan. 15. The matchup, dubbed "The Frozen Diamond Faceoff" is part of the Indians’ Snow Days promotion at the ballpark, a two-month winter-themed event that drew over 50,000 fans in its first year. The Buckeyes and Wolverines will play on a regulation-sized rink situated on the Indians’ infield.

The teams will meet in Columbus on Jan. 13 before playing the first outdoor college hockey game in Ohio history.

Last December, the Wolverines hosted Michigan State in "The Big Chill at the Big House," a game that drew more than 100,000 fans to Michigan’s mammoth football stadium.

The Frozen Diamond Faceoff will be the first hockey game in Progressive Field history and the first outdoor college hockey game in Ohio. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA)-sanctioned game will be the second of a two-game series between the two schools.

"Last winter, Indians Snow Days allowed over 50,000 Indians fans to create memories with their families,” Indians President Mark Shapiro said. “We are excited that the return of Indians Snow Days and the addition of the Frozen Diamond Faceoff will allow even more fans to create wintertime memories at Progressive Field.”

"An event at a venue like Progressive Field is great for both the institutions and the league as a whole," CCHA Commissioner Fred Pletsch said. "We’re looking forward to coming to Cleveland this January to see a terrific rivalry showcased in a distinctive and memorable setting.”

Tickets to Indians Snow Days and The Frozen Diamond Faceoff will go on sale to the general public on Nov. 14.

Monday, August 15, 2011

U.S. Under-17 Select Team Tops Switzerland, 5-1, at 2011 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament

Ryan Siroky (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) logged a goal and two assists, as the U.S. Under-17 Select Team topped Switzerland, 5-1, in its final game of the 2011 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament.

Team USA finished the tournament in first place after posting an undefeated 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record against the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland.

"The players deserve all the credit in going undefeated," said Bob Corkum, head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team. "They bought into the system and concept of togetherness that our coaching staff preached en route to the title."

The U.S. jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead with goals from Michael Turner (Oak Park, Ill.), Daniel Vanderwiel (Island Lake, Ill.) and Vinni Lettieri (Excelsior, Minn.). Switzerland trimmed the U.S. lead to two with a power-play tally near the end of the opening frame, but would get no closer.

Eight minutes into the second period, Siroky restored Team USA's three-goal advantage with his third goal of the tournament. Then, with less than two minutes remaining in the stanza, Gabe Guertler (Plantation, Fla.) pushed the U.S. lead to 5-1 with the final goal of the event.

U.S. goaltender Devin Williams (Saginaw, Mich.) blanked Switzerland in the second and third periods, as he turned aside 33 shots overall including making 19 saves in the third period alone.

NOTES: The U.S. went 1-for-3 on the power play, while Switzerland was 1-for-4 with the man advantage ... Ryan Siroky (3-3) and Andrew Oglevie (Fullerton, Calif./0-6) tied for the U.S. team lead and were tied for second among all tournament participants with six points in four games ... Daniel Vanderwiel led Team USA with four goals in four games ... Bob Corkum served as head coach, while Pat Mikesch served as assistant coach for the 2011 U.S. Under-17 Select Team.

Monday, August 08, 2011

SUNYAC schools to go to four-man officiating system

There will be four on-ice officials for all SUNYAC games next season, new coordinator of officials Jeff Fulton told USCHO on Friday.

League officials voted Friday to approve the four-man system for the regular season and playoffs.

This is significant for college hockey since we are the first NCAA D-III conference to adopt the 2-and-2 officiating system as D-I does,” said Fulton. “There are numerous benefits to the 2-and-2 versus the 2-and-1 system.”

Monday, August 01, 2011

Mercyhurst's Holmstrom Transferring to Penn State

Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Year Taylor Holmstrom has decided to transfer from Mercyhurst to Penn State.

Holmstrom joins a sprinkling of other players doing the same, including fellow Laker Nate Jensen, though he is the biggest catch for Penn State so far. Holmstrom was recruited by Bowling Green and Dartmouth, and lived up to expectations in his freshman season.

The pair is taking advantage of loophole to NCAA rules, that allows them to play for Penn State's club program this coming season instead of sitting out the NCAA's mandatory one-year waiting period that normally applies to transfers.

That news is good for Penn State, but damages Mercyhurst.

"It's terrible. We were totally blindsided by this," Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said.

"I am heartbroken. I love those two kids. I thought we had a great relationship. We like these kids very much and were looking forward to having them."

Guy Gadowsky, who was named Penn State's first coach, will be coaching the club team. Penn State becomes a full-fledged NCAA Division I team in 2012-13, starting out as an independent before joining the Big Ten in 2013-14.

Holmstrom, who played in the USHL for Omaha and Youngstown, had 9 goals and 33 points last season for the Lakers.

The transfers have raised concern among some in the college hockey community, particularly Penn State's ability to take advantage of the transfer-period loophole to lure players.

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