Yeah, it's a little early for a Friday-morning skate, but I'll be out of town for a few days and want to get ahead on a few items ...
I've stopped by a couple of Minnesota State practices and there hasn't been too much to report. It's hard to tell much out of captains' skates when guys are playing shinny (no-check) hockey. Coaches got some ice time with the team this week and will get a couple of hours next week before the season officially starts on on Saturday, Oct. 2.
I'm told the captains this season will be seniors Channing Boe, Rylan Galiardi and Ben Youds, but it has yet to be determined who will wear the "C." Boe was an assistant captain last season but all three seem capable.
Speaking of Youds, it looks like he'll be blogging this season. You can read his first post here. He sheds a little more insight on the Mavericks' preseason happenings. I talked to Youds this week, and he is very excited about the season and is raving about the team chemistry already, saying it's the best he's seen in his four seasons at MSU. It seems like I hear that from somebody every year but maybe this will be different.
The big news on Friday will be Penn State's likely announcement that it is adding men's and women's hockey. I wrote on Tuesday that this may start much-talked-about Big Ten hockey conference's wheels. More recent stories from around Big Ten country sure make it sound like it's coming sooner than later:
• Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez is already talking about the "logistics" of leaving the WCHA, while a source tells Wisconsin State Journal hockey writer Andy Baggot that, "There's going to be Big Ten hockey" by 2014, if not sooner.
• Meanwhile, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post speculates that if Penn State plans on making a big splash with its new hockey team, it might just think about going after DU coach George Gwozdecky. Gwozdecky is a Big Ten guy, having played at Wisconsin and working as an assistant at Michigan State. He won national titles at both stops and also won two with Denver.
• U.S. College Hockey is reporting that Penn State could start playing as soon as a year from now and maybe even try to have a coach in place by this Thanksgiving (I'm guessing that might rule out Gwoz?).
• Finally, how quickly could the Big Ten grow? Could it get to eight teams? What about 10 or 12 (the number it will have in most major sports next year when Nebraska joins)? There is already speculation about interest from other schools. Illinois and Indiana have been tossed out there, while in PucKato's opinion Iowa and Nebraska seem like schools that might make sense based on the success of junior hockey in those states.