Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Storm Clouds for Hockey

I don't really write about hockey here, which isn't anything other than my first passions are football and men's basketball, and someone else who feels that way about hockey is better suited to blog about that.

Having said that, the events of the recent week or so are certainly presenting challenges to the hockey program.  Excellent stories were published today in The Blade and the Sentinel on the topic.

In case you haven't heard....

The whole thing started when some dude with a ton of hydrofracking money decided to give $88M to Penn State to start a hockey team.  This meant the Big 10 had 6 teams (MSU, UM, OSU, MINN, WISC, and PSU) and could form its own conference, something that makes complete sense for those schools.

With 3 teams leaving the CCHA and 2 leaving the WCHA, that left both conferences alive but in perilous state.  Last weekend, the next domino fell when Miami said it would leave the CCHA and join Colorado College, the University of Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, and North Dakota in a new Super Conference. (This doesn't sound like a big deal, but in the college hockey world it is significant).

That leaves the CCHA with Notre Dame, Alaska, WMU, NMU, BGSU, Ferris, and Lake Superior and the WCHA with Anchorage, St. Cloud, Bemidji State, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech.

Things don't stop there.  It seems to be a virtual certainty the Notre Dame will leave, either to go into the Super Conference, or to the East.  If they go to the Super Conference, they need a partner (to keep an even number of teams) which everyone anticipates would be WMU.

The first and most natural idea would be for the leftovers from the CCHA and WCHA to join together in a new conference.  While this would have the effect of creating "mid majors" in college hockey, it would still provide good competition and a chance to make a run in the tourney.

However, Northern Michigan appears ready to jump to the WCHA, which would seem to indicate that a merger isn't likely.  And, Alaska would also be a logical team to move to the WCHA.

Which leaves, worst case, the CCHA with BG, Ferris State, and Lake Superior.

AD Greg Christopher is quoted in the Sentinel as saying this...

“At the end of the day, college hockey is a sport with less than 60 Division I institutions and I would be really disappointed if you have some of the smaller programs without a seat when the music stops."

The options for BG could be tough.  Now, maybe Notre Dame goes East (they are already in Big East in most sports and probably feel more like their name should appear next to Boston College on a schedule instead of Nebraska-Omaha), which means that WMU stays.  Maybe Alaska stays.  And then, the CCHA goes and gets some of the aspiring programs in college hockey (Alabama-Huntsville, Robert Morris, Niagara, Canisius and Mercyhurst, according to the Sentinel).

Which, if you are as old as I am, means that the CCHA almost returns to its roots as the upstart conference in college hockey, which is where we were when Byron Shutt blasted the puck past the Colorado College goalie to send BG to the Final Four.

One thing is clear.  BG's commitment to hockey is iron-clad.  The program will stay, and a place for it will be found.  Again, Mr. Christopher in the Sentinel.

“Bowling Green is committed to its program and competing for championships, that’s the same approach we’ve had all along,” Christopher said. “We’re committed to a full funding of the program.”

In this case, full funding is going to involve some additional travel costs, regardless of which conference we end up in.  It would be hard to beat the geography we have now.

Anyway, just a quick check in...hoping for the best possible resolution for the Falcons.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for doing this & providing the links to the two excellent articles. As a longtime Falcon hockey fan, it's sad, but I'm more informed.

Who know how many hours I waited outside in the cold to get my favorite general admission seat - which I had most of the time for 5 years. My favorite memory is when the first #1 ranked team came to the arena for the first time. The building shook that night!