The Minnesota State men's hockey team left town early Thursday for their season-opening series at RPI in Troy, N.Y. The Mavericks have never played the Engineers before, but it shapes up to be a competitive series (more on that on Friday). ...
One of the players on the trip is freshman Matt Leitner, who missed all of last season while getting his academics in order. He was a student at MSU but did not practice or work out with the team. Monday's exhibition game against British Columbia was Leitner's first game action in almost 18 months, he said.
Leitner said he achieved a 3.2 GPA in his first year of school, which is great for him and the Mavericks. He has a chance to be the kind of top-line center MSU has lacked in recent years.
You can read more about his thoughts and other MSU happenings (like Mavs women's standout Kathleen Rogan being named WCHA offensive player of the week) in The Free Press' weekly college hockey notebook here. ...
Meanwhile, Notre Dame made it official on Wednesday, announcing that it will join Hockey East in 2013-14. The Irish also announced that all of their home games will be broadcast nationally on Versus (now the NBC Sports Network), a move that, ironically, caused the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to back away from its desire to get Notre Dame.
(This all begs the question: If the NCHC didn't get Notre Dame and didn't get a national TV contract, what the heck did it get to make it worth breaking up the WCHA this summer?)
For now, that appears to be the final domino to fall since Penn State's announcement that it was adding hockey a little more than a year ago — at least in the West. There is speculation that we might see some shuffling in the East, as Hockey East looks for a 12th team. RPI could be a possibility or maybe a new D-I team. Stay tuned. ...
As for the WCHA, I wrote on Wednesday that it and MSU needs to start selling the future. But Kevin Gordon of the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune has already started looking into it. WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod told him that the league is no hurry to expand further (although 10 teams would be preferable to nine/check out the poll to the right) and will continue to play a 28-game league schedule.
McLeod also said the league is looking into how to fit two Alaska teams into the schedule.
Here's where the western teams will be in 2013-14 (as of right now):
Lake Superior State
St. Cloud State
Notre Dame to Hockey East ... Air Force in Atlantic Hockey ... Alabama-Huntsville still independent