Showing posts with label NCAA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NCAA. Show all posts

Monday, July 28, 2014

Are Major Junior Hockey Players Underpaid?

So, kind of sounds a lot like the debate that is taking place in division I athletics right now.
Rick Westhead, TSN -- Dias told TSN that when he met with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne three weeks ago at Queen's Park, Wynne brought up the issue of working conditions in junior hockey with him. Dias said Wynne told him she is interested in learning more about whether players get a fair share of the game's profits.

Flynn's spokesman Craig MacBride declined to comment.

Wynne's spokeswoman Zita Astravas said both the premier and Flynn have already met with Dias.

"Discussions covered a wide range of topics," she said. "Unifor is an important partner and our government looks forward to a positive relationship with labour."

Two years after a similar attempt to organize CHL players fizzled out, Unifor is trying again. The union, which represents about 300,000 workers in various industries, says major junior players are underpaid and exploited by the owners of junior teams that have become hugely profitable in recent years.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

NCAA: Are we on the Verge of Having Five Power Conferences?



Although this blog focuses on mostly hockey, I do wade into other areas, from time-to-time. This is a subject that I have been following with great interest. It's also going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. Much like realignment in division I college hockey, this is about the rich schools getting richer, and leaving the rest of division I schools in the dust.
Tom Fornelli, College Football Writer --NCAA president Mark Emmert believes that the the NCAA and the five power conferences are "not that far apart" in what they want to get accomplished as far as a new governance structure for the NCAA.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive recently rekindled the talk about the five power conferences (the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12) and Notre Dame essentially breaking off from the rest of Division I to form their own Division 4, but Emmert remains confident that won't be necessary. He said as much following a meeting with more than 100 athletic directors Wednesday at the National Association of College Directors of Athletics convention.

"The reality is, they're not that far apart on the various ends of that and I'm pretty confident the whole thing is going to work out and probably be successful," Emmert told USA Today.

The NCAA is trying to focus on an autonomous structure for the power five conferences that would give them voting independence on specific issues. What specific issues those will be are still being worked out, as well as what the voting threshold will be among the conferences. The NCAA steering committee submitted a proposal last month that called for a two-thirds super majority in order for an autonomous vote to pass, plus a simple majority from four of the five power conferences. Both Slive and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would like to lower the threshold to 60 percent and three of the five conferences.

Monday, March 24, 2014

UND's Chances at Number Eight

Since it is that time of year again, all of the "fire Hakstol" nonsense is put on hold, well at least until UND makes an exit from the NCAA tournament, if they even do this season.

This UND team is a team that has shown signs on how they can compete with the best teams in the country. On the contrary, they also have shown signs on why there is also a great chance that they could be golfing very early this spring.

Lets take a look at their first round match-up against a tough Wisconsin. The Badgers are coming off of an entertaining overtime victory in the Big Ten title game Saturday night against Ohio State. Finishing second in the Big Ten regular season standings, the Badgers have found themselves in the top 10 of the rankings essentially all season long. However, they are playing a UND team that has almost been unbeatable since their Friday night loss to St. Lawrence all the way back in November.

That being said, this UND team has also shown sides of very poor play. Good examples of this is their 6-3 loss to UNO at the Ralph in February and most recently this past Friday against Miami. The only difference between the two games is UND would put forward a good 60 minutes against Miami, but would miss on great scoring chances that one team just can't miss on.

If that team from the Miami game shows up this Friday against the Badgers, our tournament life is very likely to be limited and the "fire Hakstol" jazz will be back in full force once again. However, if the team from Saturday night, which beat Western Michigan 5-0, shows up, look out NCAA.

So what are the chances I am giving UND to win their eighth national title this year? I'd say probably about a 35% chance at the most. I can hear all of the hate coming in right now, but watching this team play all season, I learned that their play can be very bipolar. Depending on what team shows up this Friday, sorry for stating the obvious here like Pierre, but it will determine how long they can stay in this tournament. Beat the Badgers, and I think this team makes the Frozen Four.

Mens NCAA Tourney is Set

After a crazy weekend of conference tournaments, the 2014 men's ice hockey field was set on Sunday morning. The NCAA looks at the Pairwise rankings, along with auto bids from winning conference tournaments to determine the 16 team field of play.

Lets take a look at this years tournament, first starting with the West Regional in St. Paul working our way east. In the region's first game, we have the number one overall seed Minnesota Golden Gophers facing off against auto bid Robert Morris. This match up seems to have everything made for an easy Minnesota victory, but so did their opening round game against Yale last year. Do we need to even mention the Holy Cross game in 2006 in Grand Forks? What I am trying to get at here is that the Gophers better not take this game too lightly or they could be golfing early once again. One thing they do have on their side is the home ice advantage of playing at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. In the last West Regional hosted here, the Gophers would skate to a regional championship with a 5-2 victory over the University of North Dakota.

For the second game in this regional we have another Minnesota team in St. Cloud State facing off against the always tough Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This opening round game has everything in store for it to be a classic. It has all of the tools to be set up as a classic goaltending duel. Between SCSU's Ryan Faragher and Notre Dame's Steven Summerhays, I would say this is going to be a very low scoring contest. However, one must look at the end of season disaster in the first round of NCHC play against Miami, is one to think that the confidence will be down after getting swept, or will the extra week of no games have them primed and ready to go? Notre Dame, on the other hand, is coming into this tournament knocking off the number two overall seed Boston College, to get to their conference tournament, but would lose 4-0 in the semifinal to the surging UMass Lowell.

I have Notre Dame and Minnesota winning in the first round of this region with Notre Dame advancing to the Frozen Four. I know this is bold, but much like Michigan did in 2011, Summerhays is a goalie who is hot and can carry this Notre Dame team far in this tournament.

Moving to the Midwest Regional where we have number four overall seed Wisconsin playing the team they helped get in by beating Ohio State Saturday, North Dakota. The team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux is coming into this tournament off of a 5-0 victory over Western Michigan in the NCHC third place game. However, their Friday night game against Miami was by far one of the worst games that this UND squad had played all season. Not cashing in on opportunities when in front of them and giving up goals that were not North Dakota like goals to give up. However, if the UND team that played on Saturday shows up in this tournament, watch out. There could possibly be an eighth banner being hung up at the beginning of next season. As for Wisconsin, they are coming off of a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory in the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State. In their last 10 games, the Badgers are an amazing 8-2-0 and if you go back to 12 games, you will find a home ice sweep of Minnesota. These former WCHA rivals are going to beat each other up in this game. Look for a lot of physicality and a very low scoring contest.

For the other game in the Midwest Region, we have Ferris State playing Colgate. Colgate is coming off a 5-2 loss to Union, who is this week's USCHO poll number one team, in the ECAC championship game. Before that, Colgate is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, including a 4-4 stand-off against Union. As for one of the new WCHA members, Ferris State, they are also coming off a conference championship loss to Minnesota State Mankato of a score of 4-1. Both teams are coming in with something to prove, and have a very tough road to get to the Frozen Four, but never count out a team who just was recently in a Frozen Four with Ferris State.

I have North Dakota and Ferris State winning their opening round match ups with North Dakota advancing to the Frozen Four.

Moving east, we have Union skating into Bridgeport, Connecticut to play the Vermont Catamounts, who is coming off of a very impressive season. However, the Catamounts are coming off of a 3 game Hockey East playoff series loss to UMass Lowell so they also are coming into the tournament on a losing note. However, maybe the extra rest will give them all of the tools for an upset against this very tough Union team. Union is coming into the tournament winning the ECAC championship and as the number one ranked team in the USCHO.com poll. I just can't see Vermont coming out on top in this game, but in this tournament, you can't count anyone out.

For the second game in the East Regional we have Providence playing Quinnipiac. Quinnipiac is looking for a second straight trip to the Frozen Four, but hoping for better results then last season. They also are coming off of a heartbreaking double overtime loss in the ECAC semi finals to Colgate so they come in with a little extra weight on their shoulders. As for Providence, they also are coming off their conference semi final to a loss 3-1 against UNH. going 11-7-2 in a very tough Hockey East, Providence looks to prove that they are deserving on making this tournament by advancing past the first round.

I have Union facing Quinnipiac in the regional final, in what could be another tournament classic if the game actually does happen, with Union advancing to the Frozen Four.

Finally we move to the Northeast Regional in Worchester, Mass. Both opening round games look to be classics with UMass Lowell playing Minnesota State Mankato in the regions first game. MSUM is coming off of a very successful season, only missing out on the WCHA regular season crown to Ferris State by just a single point. However, Mankato would get their revenge in the conference tournament by beating the Bulldogs and win their first WCHA tournament crown. As for Lowell, they probably are coming into this tournaments as one of the hottest teams in the country and will be a tough opponent for anybody in this tournament.

For the second game, we have auto bid Denver facing off against number two Boston College. After a lot of people were skeptical about Denver this season, especially with the departure of George Gwozdecky, but this Pioneer squad never gave up and won the first ever NCHC Frozen Face-Off. As for BC, the Eagles took an early exit from their conference tournament, losing to Notre Dame, Hockey East's newest member. However, the Eagles to play home to the NCAA's likely Hobey Baker winner in Johnny Gaudreau. BC is always a tough opponent this time of year and if they keep up their pattern since 2008, it is their year to win the NCAA title.

I have BC and UMass winning their first round games with UMass advancing to the Frozen Four. The choice for this region wasn't that easy, but I had to go with the hotter team.

Finally for my Frozen Four picks. I have Notre Dame advancing over North Dakota to the title game, with UND having nightmares once again with another hot goalie, much like in 2011. I also Have Union advancing over UMass. UMass can only ride the hot streak for so long and Union is going to put the fire out. Finally for this year's national championship game, I have Union beating Notre Dame.

Now I know some of you are probably thinking I am crazy for picking these two schools to advance to my title game, but that's the power of opinion. Feel free to share what you think with me on twitter at the handle of @siouxhockey33.
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Monday, August 19, 2013

NCAA Reverses course: Marine Veteran can play football

The wordmark and logo for Middle Tennessee Sta...
The wordmark and logo for Middle Tennessee State University. This logo has replaced Image:Mtsu old logo.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A bunch of bumbling buffoons, this is a clown show, there is no excuse for this... The person at the NCAA that made this decision should be fired immediately and sent home in disgrace. I am for veterans rights and he served his country with honor and nothing he did in the service should do anything to jeopardize his eligibility. I am sick and tired of this organization.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) -- The NCAA has ruled that a Middle Tennessee football player who spent five years in the Marines will be allowed to compete this fall and that he will have four years of eligibility remaining.

It's a reversal from the NCAA's earlier decision to rule Steven Rhodes was ineligible because he played in a recreational league during his military service. School officials had said earlier Monday that they were working with NCAA officials to come up with a solution.

"This is exciting news for Steven and Middle Tennessee State University," school President Sidney McPhee said in a statement. "We express our gratitude to the NCAA for reviewing this situation and granting Steven the ability to play this fall. We are hopeful that the NCAA will look at the bylaws regarding all individuals who serve in the military before becoming a student-athlete."

Late Monday afternoon, the NCAA issued a news release saying Rhodes could play immediately and member schools would continue to re-examine the competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service. Rhodes has been practicing at both tight end and defensive end

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NCAA Stupidity: Marine Veteran fighting for eligibility to play for MTSU this season

English: National Collegiate Athletic Associat...
Number one in stupidity, the NCAA. This is a travesty. When I was in Germany, the U.S. Army had a intramural flag football league, so are we to believe that these veterans shouldn't be allowed to go to college and play football? This is absolutely shameful. Disgusting!
Adam Sparks, The Daily News Journal — Steven Rhodes felt a duty to serve his country and had a dream to play football.

But now, to his surprise, one is hindering the other in the peculiar case of the United States Marine and 24-year-old MTSU freshman football player versus the NCAA.

“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes said. “I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For (the NCAA) to say, ‘No, you can’t play right now,’ I just don’t understand the logic in that.”

Rhodes, an Antioch native, finished his five years of active service in the Marines this summer, when he called MTSU coaches in hopes of landing a spot as a walk-on player for the Blue Raiders. They happily granted the request of the athletic 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant. He has played both tight end and defensive end thus far in preseason camp.

But not long after arriving on campus, Rhodes was told that his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012 would hinder his immediate eligibility to play Division I college football, per an NCAA rule.

Despite his age, military service and complete lack of college football experience, Rhodes must take a mandatory redshirt and not play a single game for MTSU this season.



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Saturday, August 17, 2013

How I'd Fix College Hockey and the NCHC Specifically (RW77)

Original NHL logo, used until 2005. A version ...
Original NHL logo, used until 2005. A version of the logo features it in the shape of a hockey puck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ok, to lead off, I wish I could claim credit for any of these ideas, but I can't.  FULL Credit actually goes to Sean McIndoe (otherwise known as @DownGoesBrown) for his blog post on Grantland entitled "How We'd Fix the NHL".  The reason why I come on out and say it is that, with the exception of the obvious rule differences between the NHL and NCAA DI Hockey, the fixes would actually cross over really easily.  Let me break down the fixes:

1.  Fix the Standings and Kill the Loser Point

In McIndoe's article, he speaks to the fact that shootouts render the loser point to be detrimental to the game stating it actually rewards a team for playing for overtime.  It inflates records and confuses all but the ardent fan (and sometimes them too).

I agree.  Why do we need 15 columns in the Standings section of the newspaper or website?  Keep it simple.  Wins, Losses, and that's it.  If you want a point in the standings for the "loser" then the only real solution is to eliminate shootouts and bring back ties as a possibility.  DI Hockey is not like the NHL yet with regards to ties, but it is readily apparent that they want to be.  So, this argument is apt.

2.  Longer OT, fewer shootouts*

In his article, McIndoe makes the point simple:  Make OT's 10 minutes long and keep it sudden death.  It isn't about reducing the number of players on the ice because it ends up being just as gimmicky as the shootout.

However, with no loser point and a 10 minute OT, it will more than likely reduce the number of shootouts we would see.  It doesn't eliminate shootouts, which will make the casual fan happy, but it won't promote them, which will be an adequate compromise for us strident hockey traditionalists.

It's at this point in McIndoe's article that he speaks to several NHL-specific problems that the NCAA has, so I'll speak to some NCAA problems that the NHL doesn't have.

3.  Change the rules regarding helmets.  Mandate visors, recommend cages.

The NCAA will never allow the freedom the NHL has at the moment regarding helmets and visor styles, but we can go a little more the way of flexibility.  The USHL requires all players wear half-shields or visors.  The NCAA right now requires full cages.  I say we go the way of the USHL and require the player to choose between the half shield/visor and the full cage.  It does not matter which the player chooses as long as one is present at all times.

This has to do with perceived security and cheap shots to the head.  Right now, the cage is pretty protective all in all so high sticking is more of a judgment call as to whether the stick actually hit the cage.  Judgment calls means the opportunity to make a situational call or non-call.  That usually exacerbates the mediocrity inherent in the NCAA Officiating Corps. 

Safety is a huge issue but much of being safe is playing safe.  I do not think the players are playing as safely as they should.  They've become too reliant upon their equipment (especially goaltenders) to bail them out.  Educate and allow them the choice.

Sadly, the best effect of visors over cages cannot be achieved in NCAA hockey as fighting is not allowed.


4.  Fix the Diving Problem

McIndoe again hits the nail right on the head.  Every team has divers on it.  Every team does it.  Why?  Because it works.  Much of the time, officials defend it by semantics (embellishment is still diving, but it's a less negative word than diving).  The best way to eliminate diving is to develop players who naturally do not dive.  However, as McIndoe again correctly states, you cannot change player psychology.  If you do, the other guy isn't, and you will be spending a lot of time on special teams.

Right now, the biggest flaw with diving is that it is RARELY called as a penalty without it being offsetting.  McIndoe suggests several fixes and I'll add one of my own:

a.  No more coincidentals.  Yup.  If a guy cross checks you and you flop to the ice like you've been shot congrats.  You're going for diving and the cross check goes uncalled.  There have been several times where a team will send a 3rd or 4th liner or bottom pairing defenseman out there to bait the other team's star.  The star runs into them, they flop.  Both go.  Who loses in that case?  Not the flopper.
b.  Rep counts.  This is a contraversial one on McIndoe's part, but in the NCAA we've already seen that the officials already practice this.  I've seen many times where Matt Greene was called simply for skating too close to the other guy.  Joe Finley got called for a high elbows and we all know (haters and likers alike) that Finley is absolutely NOT a physical player.  However, if the guy has a rep of being a diver, then call it if he does.  You make the bed, you sleep in it.
c.  The TV gloves come off.  McIndoe says to call it like it is, and I agree.  If the guy dives, then the commentator should cite Louganis.  Heck, cut to the commentators and they can hold up numbers grading the dive!  The NFL commentators already do it, so let's hear our guys do it too.
d.  Here's my add-in.  The truth is, the game happens too fast for officials to track it all.  If diving is a problem, perhaps replays of the play in question can be sent to the head of officials for review.  If it was clearly a dive and there was no call, then the offending player can sit out a period in his next game.  It doesn't do any justice for the game in which it occurs, but perhaps the guy won't dive if he knows that doing so will only cause his team to go short handed if he's caught or he won't play for an entire period if he isn't.

These changes will cause the player who dives no end of issues, but it will come with some false penalties.  That's life.  It wouldn't be the first bad call the officials make and it would never be the last.  However, diving would truly cease... assuming that the conference head of officials is consistent.

5.  Standardization between conferences in how officiating is run and the rule book interpretted

DI Hockey will never go under the umbrella of a single head of officiating for the entire DI Hockey world, but they should at least have standardized policies and procedures across the entire DI Hockey world.  In other words, if I am an official in the NCHC and I take a weekend series officiating in Hockey East, there should be no difference in how I call the game and the fans shouldn't notice it either.

I know what you're thinking:  "This rule is already in place!  They all use the same rulebook and it is the same game!"  However, I've watched so many officials from every conference officiate non-conference games and notice how different it is from the conference I am used to watching.  However, when you watch in-conference games, the games are largely officiated the same way.  This needs to be eliminated.

How?  I'm not sure how to make this work without compromising the autonomy of the existing Head of Officiating norm.  Maybe they can work as a committee to come up with a standardized Standards of Operating Procedures (SOP) Handbook?  Maybe they can have a standardized job description for officials and ARs.  I'm open for suggestions.

It seems like the most obvious solution to this:  Having a generalized pool of officials that will officiate games regardless of conference instead of the conference-specific hired officials seems to not be feasible.

6.  Accountability is more than something held against player and coaching performances.  It's held on officials and head of officials too.

Officials aren't perfect.  And Don Adam's system is great on paper.  His officiating corps, however, makes it suspect.  So, if Don Adam's system is to be taken seriously, accountability must be in place.  The HEA seems to have such an accountability program in place as far as what the fans can tell because, though the HEA has a dud or two, I've yet to see whole threads dedicated on message boards to how big of an issue officiating is (that isn't just one fanbase venting) like I've seen in other conferences.

I'm not saying that Adam come out the day after an on-ice officiating debacle and announce that he's cleaned house, but I am saying that Adam not make the same mistake McLeod and Shepherd have done year after year by announcing that the officiating isn't a problem because the ADs and coaches told them it wasn't a few months after the season has concluded.  It seems that accountability only matters during that month to those two clowns.  And those meetings are held to address far more significant issues than to think back 4 or 5 months to those two games in January or December.  If Adam and Fenton want to do this style of accountability, then they'll have to convince the ADs and coaches that an early January meeting will have to be held as well as the post season conference and the primary topic would be operations and officiating.  I don't see that happening.

7.  Make the nets bigger.

I'm not (and neither is McIndoe) suggesting drastic changes like some of the nets we've seen in the past, but I suggest 3 alternatives to the existing net:  Make the net 1 inch taller but keep the width the same, Make the net 1 inch wider but keep the height the same, make the height and width 1 inch bigger.  One inch doesn't seem like much but it was amazing last year to watch how many shots clanged off the crossbar and stayed out.  1 more inch and that puck is in the back of the net.  With goaltender equipment and the goaltenders themselves being bigger (especially since the rules are less strict in the NCAA compared to the NHL), this would give the shooter more to shoot at.

8.  Redefine late hits. 

Late hits aren't as big of a problem in NCAA as it is in the NHL, but it is still an issue.  There is nothing in the NHL rulebook (I don't know if it is stated in the NCAA rulebook either) regarding how many seconds after the player gets rid of the puck would a hit be considered late, or how many seconds after the whistle would a hit be considered late, but it should be better defined.  McIndoe asks a GREAT question:  Why is it that a hit, delivered seconds too early, is considered an illegal hit but a hit delivered seconds after the puck is gone, considered a legal hit?

McIndoe's rule rewriting is dead on.  He states:  "Any hit that is initiated after the puck is gone is a late hit. And "initiating" a hit will mean actually starting to throw it, not just gliding toward a guy who's watching his pass."  The onus will be on the guy who is setting up to hit a guy to try at all costs to avoid contact late.  I also think this may eliminate much of the cheap shots if the officials would be willing to be consistent in its calling.

Summary

Not all of my suggestions have the greatest solutions and not all of Sean McIndoe's suggestions cross over, but his article is an absolutely SPOT ON MUST READ for those who are passionate about NHL Hockey and improving the product on the ice.  Normally he's full of tongue in cheek humor, but in this case, he's spot on.  Kudos to you Mr. McIndoe.

I'd LOVE to hear solutions to the issues addressed above in the comment section.  Again, I'm not an expert and I fully acknowledge Sean McIndoe's role in the creation of this post.  If you want to speak to an expert, talk to Sean.

How We’d Fix It: The NHL. (Aug. 8, 2013). Grantland.com. Retrieved August 17, 2013, from http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9538380/how-fix-nhl



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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More Trouble at the NCAA

Maybe we should get rid of the NCAA and Mark Emmert? To me the NCAA seems like a bunch of pushy bullys. There has to be a better to have oversight over college athletics.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - NCAA President Mark Emmert has spent 2 1/2 years trying to push through historic reforms and get tougher on cheaters.

It's only created more problems.

Today, Emmert presides over an organization that is struggling to maintain credibility with the public, is tied up in multiple court cases and is tainted by an embarrassing internal scandal. He has been criticized for his governing style and personality. There have been questions surrounding the work he did in previous jobs and whether he overstepped his authority in punishing Penn State for the Jerry Sandusky scandal. He drew fire for pinning blame for the debacle in the Miami investigation on enforcement officials and some question whether he should lead the NCAA through its next major overhaul - fixing the governance structure.

Critics contend there is only way to only one way to restore the NCAA's tattered image: Find a new president.

''He should have been gone yesterday, as far as I'm concerned,'' said Gerald Gurney, a former senior associate athletic director for academics at Oklahoma and a former compliance director at Maryland. ''He's absolutely unable to get anything through the NCAA system. Every time one of his proposals is voted down, that's like a vote of no confidence. If he can't get his ideas across to membership, he ought to leave.''

Emmert has ignored the growing calls for his resignation and he doesn't sound like a man planning to leave any time soon. [Read the rest of the article right here]

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ruh Roh! Small school complaining

NCAA Hockey- Sacred Heart University at Army
I was reading this article in USCHO and it's interesting, but not all is equal. The Atlantic Hockey Association while they have made big-time improvements, they still aren't on the same level as the other major conferences. That's the brutal reality. That doesn't mean that they're not going to win games in the NCAA tourney, because they have in a few isolated cases.

Also, these schools in most cases, just  don't have the facilities a lot of the other big schools have, I checked on line and not one of the current schools in the AHA has an arena that seats over 3000 fans.  So, good luck getting the bigger schools to visit the R.I.T., Sacred Hearts and or the Bentley's of the AHA.
Chris Lerch, USCHO.COM -- Atlantic Hockey posted the highest number of non-conference wins (25) and tied for the best non-conference winning percentage (.365) in the league’s history. That was despite AHA teams playing the vast majority of their non-conference games on the road.

And that, according to Wilson, is where change has to happen.

Atlantic Hockey teams hosted 23 non-conference home games (16 with conference-affiliated teams; seven against either Alabama-Huntsville or Penn State) plus three more neutral-ice games where AHA squads were the designated home team (RIT’s game with Penn State at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena and Robert Morris’ contests with Penn State and Ohio State at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center).

In contrast, the league’s 12 teams played 52 pure road games and another five on neutral ice (not including NCAA tournament games). That’s more than a two-to-one disparity.

Mercyhurst played all seven of its non-conference games on the road. Niagara played six of its seven non-conference contests away from Dwyer Arena, where the Purple Eagles were 15-0-2 last season.

In comparison, teams that will form the National Collegiate Hockey Conference played 35 non-conference home games to just 15 road games and 10 neutral-site games. Denver did not play a road non-conference game; no NCHC school played more than two.

Big Ten teams (not including Penn State) played 20 non-conference home games, eight road games and nine neutral-site games out of league. Wisconsin and Michigan did not play any non-conference road games.
Sure, it's true that AHA allows the NCAA tourney to have 16 teams in the NCAA tourney, but now it appears that the smaller schools in college hockey want to start dictating the terms to the bigger schools of college hockey. Yeah, okay! We'll see how that works for them.

I have a feeling this isn't going to play well for these smaller schools and I really don't see them setting the terms. I mean, what's next? The smaller schools start asking that we move the start of the season back a couple of weeks? Or that we start limiting that number of scholarships that teams can give out to level the playing field. The AHA isn't fully funding their hockey teams to the maximum scholarship levels that the other schools are.

Of course that's going to change, a little bit. It was announced back in May, that the Atlantic Hockey beginning with the 2014-15 season will add one additional scholarship bringing the total allowed to 13 scholarships. The following season, Atlantic Hockey will again add one more scholarship for the 2015-16 season, bringing the total number of scholarships to 14.

UND travels on a couple of non-conference series every season. Last year, UND went to the Alaska Goal Rush Tourney in Fairbanks Alaska and played at Notre Dame. So, actually, Mr. Lerch’s article isn’t exactly correct, one NCHC team played three non-conference games away from home. Alaska Fairbanks was the host for the Goal Alaska Rush Tourney.

Break down of UND travel in recent years.

UND traveled to Kendall Classic in Anchorage, Alaska and to Maine for the 2010-11 season.
UND traveled to Cornell during the 2009-10 season.
UND traveled to Boston for the Ice Breaker during the 2008-09 season to play BU and UMass and also played a two game set at Harvard as well. So, that team made two trips to Boston.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fighthing Sioux Nickname: Spirit Lake committee's last effort to save Fighting Sioux nickname fails

This is just in, not really a big shock to me. I have talked to a few lawyers that didn’t see this case as having much of a chance of making it. This is probably the final chapter of the Fighting Sioux nickname.
Chuck Haga, Grand Forks Herald – In what may well be the final chapter in the long, contentious fight over UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed a lower court’s judgment against the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe in its effort to save the nickname.

More than three months after impassioned arguments in St. Paul, the appeals court upheld the ruling last year by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson that the tribe lacked standing to sue the NCAA over its policy discouraging the use of American Indian names and images by member schools.

“The committee has not shown that the NCAA acted with discriminatory intent,” the appeals court stated in its opinion. “There is no evidence that the NCAA enacted the policy in order to eradicate Sioux culture, as the committee alleges.”

The appeals court also discounted the committee’s primary contention, that Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux elders authorized use of the name by UND in a 1969 ceremony.
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Thursday, May 09, 2013

NCAA Hockey: Coaches want to keep the status quo

English: National Collegiate Athletic Associat...

A couple of things have come out of the NCAA hockey meetings so far. Frankly, I am not all that happy with what has come out of the NCAA meetings. I didn’t really have that high of expectations anyways.
Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald – There was a proposal at the annual Florida meetings last week to change the NCAA tournament format to allow the top eight seeds to host a best-of-three series in the first round, but it was met with resistance from a segment of coaches, Faison said.
“Clearly, for me, I’ve always been a supporter of the top eight hosting in the first round,” said Faison, who will be a member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee in September. “I think it’s a better way. There are still going to be upsets. It’s just better for the game.”
The primary concern of coaches with that format is that it’s not a competitively fair situation, Faison said.
In a nut shell, “certain” schools appear to want to keep the status quo, when it comes to the NCAA Division I Hockey Tourney.  But why would they want to change? Currently in its present form, the NCAA Hockey Tourney working marvelously for them.  Why would the eastern schools want to get on a plane and have to travel to say Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota or Wisconsin and play a best-of-three series when they can play a one-and-done series in their own back yard.
The same schools would also benefit from hosting their share of best-of-three series as well. So their refusal to be open to change is puzzling.
Going forward, this means, we will continue to let the schools out east drive an hour or less and play in what is basically their own back yards.
On the flip side, the NCAA will continue to have the western schools fly long distances and play in empty arenas, in unattractive cities in places that you would never dream of traveling to.
For whatever reason, the NCAA won’t make the eastern teams travel.
According to Grand Forks Herald beat writer Brad Schlossman, “BU and BC have got on a plane 3 times for a regional in the last 13 years. The teams lost by four goals in the 1st round each time.”
The NCAA wants regional games played in arenas posing as quiet emotionless mausoleums, all under the guise of the regional being held at “neutral” sites. The fact remains, these sites are not in fact “neutral” sites. All you have to do is look at Google maps to prove my point. The University of New Hampshire is 45 minutes away from last year’s regional site in Manchester, New Hampshire.
It appears that the UND hockey team is going to get a chance at hosting a regional “close” to Grand Forks, ND. Again, since the NCAA has decided in their infinite wisdom they don’t want any more regionals on-campus and want to play in empty arenas posing as quiet emotionless mausoleums, all under the guise of the regional being held at “neutral” sites. This would be the next best option, next to the Xcel Energy Center.
UND athletic director Brian Faison said the school is working on putting together a bid to host a men’s hockey regional at Fargo’s Scheels Arena in 2015 or 2016.
I know, be careful what you ask for. Right? That being said, there is going to be a problem with having a regional championship at that location. Having been to the Scheels Arena in Fargo, I don’t think it’s big enough for a regional championship. The Scheels Arena only seats 5,000 people for hockey.
What if the NCAA puts Minnesota and North Dakota in the same regional, they’ve done it on many occasions. In essence, Scheels Arena wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate both schools ticket demands. When you put a regional close to a host school like North Dakota with a rabid fan base like UND, their fans are going to show up. The same is true with Minnesota.  It will be interesting to see how this ends up.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

UND’s Hakstol: “regionals pinnacle of our season and should be played in a great atmosphere.”

und v. usa
und v. usa (Photo credit: intersubjectiv)

This past weekend, UND played in the NCAAWest Regional tourney in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  If you watched the games you will see that the games were sparsely attended,just like I had predicted.
So the NCAA wants the teams to play in empty arena’s posing as quite mausoleums during prayer time.
Come to think of it, I have probably been to churches that are louder than last week’s West and Midwest regionals.
The announced attendance for Friday’s game between Niagara and UND was 2289 and for Saturday’s game, the announced attendance was 1918 fans.
Seriously!
If mathematically challenged, that’s a grand total for 4207 fans to see the NCAA West Regional hockey games for the weekend. My words, “that’s pathetic.” The NCAA should be ashamed. There are high school hockey tourneys in North Dakota that have more people attend them then this regional.
Today was the last press conference of the year for UND hockey head coach Dave Hakstol was asked about his thought on the NCAA tourney being played in building with atmospheres like last weekend’s regional in Grand Rapids, Michigan?
“The pinnacle of our season should be played in a great atmosphere,” Hakstol said. “I think the players that are involved in the national tournament deserve that. “I think It’s something that has garnered a fair amount of discussion over the last couple of year, but no action.” We have to fix things. We’re not doing this the right way at the regional level – to play in front of… I saw a stat within out program we had 5500 people on a live chat, and there was maybe 1500 people in a building watching a great hockey game between Yale and North Dakota on Saturday night. That’s not right. That’s the pinnacle and that’s the spotlight of our season. Yeah, we have to change things. Certainly, I would like to work towards doing that, sooner, rather than later. The best regionals that I have been involved in, that I can remember, atmosphere wise, was here, in 05-06, where we hosted, competitive environment. The regional in Minnesota; last year at the Xcel Energy Center; in front of 10,000 people, we came up one game short. Great atmosphere to play in, spotlight event, the way the national tournament game should feel. Third one would have been; at the Kohl Center, where the University of Wisconsin hosted. We had the good fortune of coming out of that regional. That was a tough game, there was about 15,000 people cheering against us and 1,000 of our fans with us, but that was atmosphere, and that’s the stage that our national tournament should be played on, we need to get back to one shape or form. “
It’s pretty clear that the UND’s head coach would rather play in a raucous, loud arena filled with passionate fans, even if they’re another fan bases’  than an empty arena, in a nameless town with empty seats posing as fans for the sake of having a regional championship at a neutral site, in an empty building on Saturday in March.  I agree.
Cross-posted at the Hockey Writers-Combine.

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Funny you should mention that coach Jackson



Funny that he should mention that, but I think I have been saying that all season long. I think I might have wrote about it as well.


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Sunday, March 31, 2013

UND 2012-13 hockey season post-mortem

English: Ralph Engelstadt Arena at the Univers...

For UND hockey fans, the end of every season is always tough, especially for the last 13 years.  UND hockey fans don’t take losing well and UND hockey is a way of life, much like football is in Nebraska or Texas.
But I digress.
If you would have asked me how I thought this year would have ended, I would have said anything is possible including this ending.  Although, I was thinking that the Green and White’s season would have ended in a trip to Pittsburgh, PA culminating in their eighth NCAA title.
I thought this team had the “potential” to take it all the way to Pittsburgh, but in the last month, those expectations were quietly dampened as they had trouble getting sweeps against the likes of Bemidji State and Michigan Tech.
This year’s team was hard to put a finger on.  They never really clicked defensively or offensively.
The coaching staff was still messing around with line combinations up until the end of the season. Some of that was a result of UND’s incredible depth this season. There was also, for the most part, no major injuries so there were many combinations to play with.
Players that played poorly on the ice found themselves sitting in the stands the next game.
There never seemed to be a lot of great chemistry among the forward lines except for the top line and the energy line.
A great hockey mind told me earlier in the season; that if your team is still screwing around with the forward lines in late January, your season wasn’t going last very long. Hum…those words of wisdom, now proved to be very true. It’s not really rocket science per see, but it’ makes a lot of sense. Just seems like there was no continuity to this hockey team.
This year’s team never really had that killer instinct, they never seemed to have to have ability to put a team away and they had a propensity to let bad teams hang around longer than they should have.
That being said, this team wasn’t a bunch of talentless hacks either.
The 2012-13 version of the UND hockey team was still a pretty decent hockey team that at times looked like they could beat the best teams in the country and played one of the toughest schedules in the country.  They didn’t rack up 22 wins playing the weak sisters of the poor.
On the negative side of things, UND had two league sweeps all season long, UNO and MTU and both of these sweeps were on the road. UND swept one team at home, and that was nonconference foe Holy Cross.
The 2012-13 UND hockey team finished with a 22-13-7 record and also finished one win away from sharing the McNaughton Cup with Minnesota and Saint Cloud State.
Let this one sink in for you, this is the first time in 10 years that the UND hockey team isn’t going to go to the Frozen Four or win a Broadmoor Trophy or McNaughton Cup.  I didn’t even realize this until I read Brad Schlossman’s post game report in the Grand Forks Herald.
There are going to be those that will say that this UND hockey team didn’t meet expectations. There will be others that will say that this team lacked grit and heart.
Secondary scoring was an issue with this team and after Danny Kristo (26-g-26a—52pts), Corban Knight (16g-33a—49pts) and Rocco Grimaldi (13g-23a—36pts), there was a drop off of in scoring after the top line.
Next season, the junior class of Mark MacMillan (13g-12a—25pts) and Michael Parks (7g-1a—8pts) along with Roco Grimaldi are going to be expected to lead the way for UND.  Michael Parks was slowed this season by an injury and he never really seemed to regain his rhythm that he had from the previous season.
Fire Hakstol
As always, expectations are pretty high, especially when your team resides in Grand Forks, North Dakota, almost to a point of fanaticism. When the season ends prematurely without a NCAA title, some in the fan base begin to call for the coach’s head.
I can tell you right now that there is zero chance that head coach Dave Hakstol gets fired, he’s not going anywhere.  Not going to happen, first-off Hakstol just signed a long term deal and you would require a very big buy out.  If I had to guess, a buyout it’s in the $800,000.00 – $1,000,000.00, so no, coach Hakstol is going anywhere, unless someone is going to step forward to write the University of North Dakota a huge check and I don’t see that happening.  Nor am I suggesting that this should it happen.  The next quesition would be, who do you replace him with? Replacing him doesn’t mean the program succeeds either.
Lastly, Dave Hakstol is a very good hockey coach and has done a good job with the UND hockey program.  UND just won 20 plus games for the ninth year in a row and I think it’s just a matter of time before he leads UND to a national title. Then the naysayers will be running to catch up with the Hakstol bandwagon.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

(Video) UND 2 NU 1



I decided to put the game winning goal up from the Yale vs. Minnesota game as well. When I .fast forwarding to the UND goals I thought what the heck. I was in the car on my way to Hugo's,  and I was listening to the game on 1500ESPN and Frank and Wally had barely got set when the overtime was already over. Not really a memorable call to the end of the Gophers season.

UND grinds out win against Niagara Purple Eagles

This was a typical hard fought regional semifinal playoff game, this is what I call a grind it out win. This wasn't a lot of fun to watch, but UND still moves on. Mac's goal to tie the game was your typical timely, big time goal.

Coming into this game, when you look at both team's schedules, you would think that game shouldn't even be close, but this is the NCAA playoffs. I thought we might see about a 6-1 game, but after the first period, I figured this was going to be a war. I also thought that this was a nasty game as well. In the end, UND was able to do what good teams do, they found a way to win.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Time to move the NCAA Hockey Tourney back on campus

English: National Collegiate Athletic Associat...

It’s that time a year again, Division I college hockey soon will be taking center stage in the NCAA regionals playing in half empty arenas, in venues in cities across the USA.
It’s a yearly occurrence for college hockey, because we can’t have anymore regionals on campus. God forbid, we can’t have playoff games in rowdy arenas stuffed with rabid fans.
The NCAA wants regional games played in arenas posing as quite emotionless mausoleums, all under the guise of  the regional being held at “neutral” sites.
But some of the sites really aren’t that neutral, for some of the schools.
Midsized towns like Grand Rapids, MichiganManchester, New Hampshire, Providence, Rhode Island and Toledo, Ohio, will be hosting this year 2013 NCAA Division I college hockey regionals.
There is a good chance in one or two of these regional, will sparsely attended.
This year, you can pretty much guess that Midwest Regional being held in Toledo, Ohio will be that regional that will be played in front of an empty arena or arena seats posing as fans.
Going on past history, I am betting that this will be that regional that very few fans will see live, unless it’s being watched on television. According to The Blade, a Toledo, Ohio newspaper, tickets remain for the regional. You can get your tickets to the regional for a cool $75.00. Really, tickets remain. I can’t imagine why? That’s way too pricey.
Anyone want to lay odds on the attendance numbers for that regional? If they get 2,000-3,000 fans for the weekend, they will be lucky. That’s what the NCAA want’s half empty arena’s at neutral sites.
The other western regional, the “West” regional, is east of the Mississippi River. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how anything in the Eastern Time zone is considered the Western part of the USA, at least by my standards, but whatever.
For the West Region, tickets are still available and a little bit cheaper, there going for $65.00.  Want to lay odds, that there will be a fair number of empty seats at this regional as well. Sure, North Dakota and Minnesota are in this regional and their fans travel well.
But let’s get real.
Grand Rapids is 649 miles from the University of North Dakota and the University of Minnesota is 582 away from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
With the cable/satellite television, one doesn’t need to spend money on a expensive last minute plane ticket or gas for 14 hour car trip, hotel room, and ticket package.
Of course, on the flip side of this equation, the Boston College eagles will get to travel a strenuous 50 miles south to Providence, Rhode Island.
Let’s not forget, New Hampshire has an exhausting 45 minute bus trip to the North East Regional in Manchester, New Hampshire.
For the most part the NCAA won’t make the eastern teams travel.
According to Grand Forks Herald beat writer Brad Schlossman, “BU and BC have got on a plane 3 times for a regional in the last 13 years. The teams lost by four goals in 1st round each time.”
Last time Boston College was sent west they got rolled 8-4 by the Colorado College Tigers.
So in essence, yearly, the NCAA is giving the eastern teams in the NCAA Division I hockey tournament home games. It’s no wonder they don’t want to move the regionals back on campus. Why should they? They might have to play a Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Denver at their home arena. We can’t have that, they might not have an easier path to the Frozen Four.
I believe it’s time for the NCAA regionals to move back on campus, soon. Of course, there is not a lot of support for moving the regionals back on campus. I don’t, however, think that’s going to happen, anytime soon.
This year, if anything, I think brings to light, a reason to at least explore that option.
After Notre Dame beat Michigan 3-1, to win the CCHA title, it looked like UND was headed to the East regional. Think again. Instead of going by the Pairwise numbers and putting UND in the East Regional with Quinnipiac, Canisius and Union, the NCAA instead put the Boston College in the easier bracket and doubled up two WCHA teams in the West Regional, all under the guise of Minnesota and North Dakota will sell tickets.
After an all WCHA Frozen Four in 2005, the NCAA didn’t want to have a repeat of that even again. In some fans opinion, the NCAA has pretty much handed Boston College a easy route to the Frozen Four with that regional draw.
According to Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame, it doesn’t sound like the regionals are going to be moving back to campus anytime soon.
According to Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame, it doesn’t sound like the regionals are going to be moving back to campus anytime soon.
Personally, I would like to see us move to an on-campus best-of-three series format for the first round,” Nevala said. “The top seeds would host regardless of size of its building. Right now we do it at the conference level and it works very well. There are upsets even with the home ice advantage and the atmosphere for everyone involved would be better. We have such great campus facilities that are such a part of the fabric of college hockey, it’s a shame that the national tourney isn’t played in them.”
So does Nevala see it happening any time soon?
“The coaching body is so set on having the regional games at neutral sites that before the committee would ever propose something like this we would need to work with them to try and get everyone on board,” Nevala said. “Hopefully we can put something together that they would feel comfortable with. It’s really hard for anyone with an objective view to say what we are doing now at our regionals is great,  so we need to try and do something with them because a great tournament should be our goal.”
Regional sites for the next two years have already been determined so the earliest any change could happen would be for the 2015 championship. The 2013 regionals are at Grand Rapids, Mich., Manchester, N.H., Providence, R.I. and Toledo, Ohio. The 2014 regionals will be held at Bridgeport, Conn., Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Paul, Minn. and Worcester, Mass. [ncaa.com]
I find those comments disappointing, however, maybe there is hope. Being from North Dakota, at least there is some hope in the future. Or at least, UND athletic director Brian Faison is saying some of the things that I like to hear.
“I don’t like the situation we seem to find ourselves in sometimes when we play in empty arenas in regionals,” said North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison, who will join the committee in the fall. “I’d love to be in a situation where you could play on campus sites for the first round. … I’d love to see us get into a different format, and I think it’s better for the sport. It’s a great game.
“And you want that game in the best locations that you can to showcase.” [Lacrosse Tribune]
Don’t count on the NCAA Hockey showcasing the college game in half empty arena’s in towns some have never heard of, nor would ever think of visiting, if it was for the college hockey game. It’s  time to consider moving the NCAA Hockey Regionals back on campus.

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