Wednesday, September 15, 2010

10 Days

The sun is actually going down at night, cars are nice and frosty in the morning, meaning hockey season is upon us. 10 days from now, the 'Nooks will take the ice for the first time of the 2010-11 season to face...themselves... The annual Blue/Gold game is always a treat for the community. Gives every one a first look at the new players. And it gives the new players a first look at the crowd. The rules are a little relaxed, its not a full game, and there are some friendly fun intra-squad competitions, like fastest skater, hardest shot, and lastly the shootout challenge. This shootout isn't all about scoring either, it's style points that count.

The Blue/Gold game is slated for Saturday, the 25th at 5PM at the Patty Ice Arena on campus. The exhibition game against University of Windsor of Ontario will be on the following Thursday (9/30) at 7:05, also at the Patty Ice Arena.

For those that haven't seen the news (or those who don't read my Twitter feed), the folks at College Hockey News beat all the major players to the party with the arrival of their Preseason Top 10. Writer Joseph Edwards pens the Alaska program at number eight in his write up, saying
"The Nanooks — an NCAA Tournament team for the first time last season — lost five players from their roster coming into the 2010-11 season, headlined by leading scorer Dion Knelsen, but they can take plenty of solace in returning nine of their top 11 scorers from last season, including Andy Taranto who put up 18 goals and 42 points as a freshman. Also in the mix are blueliners Joe Sova and Aaron Gens, who surpassed the 20-point on the season as sophomores. Scott Greenham, who went 18-12-9 last season, returns to backstop the Nanooks and improve upon a top-10 team defense (2.83 goals/g) from last season. A second trip to the NCAA postseason isn’t a given, but it’s certainly not [out of] reach, especially with so much uncertainty in the CCHA with teams like Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State, all of which lost a lot and have huge question marks."
Keep in mind, three scoring stand-outs in their respective junior leagues, including Canada's Junior A Player of the Year coming into the Alaska program will look to boost last years 40th ranked offense (2.77 goals/game average). I'm quite confident that Dallas and his staff are getting this new guys into the system and will work them throughout the lineup.

The other major news outlets have yet to release their preseason thoughts, but I'll visit them more a bit later.

Also of note is Penn State's move to add a Division I varsity hockey team. Many of my informed readers who have emailed me about this seem quite familiar with the club. They've had a club team for several years with a loyal following of fans. Their current arena looks to be about the size of Taffy Abel arena, where 3,372 Lake Superior State fans call home. But, it's not the fan count that really matters. If that were the case, UAH (whose arena more than doubles the capacity of Lake Superior) wouldn't have been nixed from the CCHA. Tom Anastos, the man at the helm of the CCHA, said in a press release back from August 11, 2009
“The league completed its due diligence of the application for membership submitted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville with careful consideration and discussion of various issues,”
CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos said in a news release. “At this time we have chosen to maintain our membership at its current level." (source)
Fast forward 364 days, when Anastos went on record with the Detroit News, saying
"They are a very attractive choice -- very attractive," CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos told The Detroit News on Tuesday. "They're in a different market than we're in, more and more U.S. players are on college rosters, and there's tremendous growth of the sport in Pennsylvania." (source)
This can only mean one thing... The CCHA hates the south...

...joking, of course. But really, why would Anastos force an established program to become the only independent team, especially when UNO defects to the Weak Club Hockey Association, leaving an odd number of teams? Seriously, shutting out a conference-less team, which would bring the CCHA back to an even 12-team conference, the CCHA said "No way", and went on to hire a third party scheduling consultant (for who knows how much money) to work out a formula to make the 11-team rotation work. Then, the following year, they bring in an upstart team in Penn State. I don't get it...

Speaking of that schedule rotation, which takes 5 years to cycle evenly, will be in place for a total of a year before (potentially) bringing the conference back to 12, while still leaving UAH out to dry. One has to think, is the CCHA seeing the big picture here?

Penn State adding a D-I program of course makes 6 Big Ten (of which, I'll point out, currently has 11 member schools, and will be growing to 13 next year...) member schools, which has everyone on their heels as to whether Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and then Penn State will bail out of their respective conferences in favor of a new Big Ten conference... Thus putting the CCHA at 8 teams, and UAH still homeless.

I can sit here and deliberate how Penn State can change the landscape of the college hockey world, but we'll save that crap for next offseason, when it actually matters. For now, congratulations to those who are supporting Penn State hockey. I'm sure this is an exciting time for you, and even though the D-I hockey landscape is small, growth is always a good thing. Once again, good luck to the UAH folks, I'm pulling for ya.

Can we just drop the puck already?

1 comment:

V said...

Thanks for your support of UAH Hockey! We are continuing to work on getting the word out and appreciate people like you who are willing to help!