Friday, June 23, 2017

NHL wants more college hockey programs

On Friday, prior to the NHL draft in Chicago, the NHL announced an initiative to grow college hockey, helping five schools with feasibility studies to add men's and women's programs. The first program to undertake such a study will be the University of Illinois, a Big Ten school that hasn't had varsity hockey since the 1940s.

Adding a program is an expensive proposition, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman admitted during a news conference streamed online. The last schools to add varsity hockey, of course, were Penn State and Arizona State. The former was made possible with a $102 million donation from Terry Pegula, which included funding for an arena for men's and women's hockey. The latter is still looking for a proper rink but got $32 million in seed money to start a men's program.

Whitman sure sounded like someone interested in having hockey at his school. Illinois certainly makes sense as it is in a state that produces a lot of hockey players and is crazy about its Blackhawks. It would give the Big Ten an eighth program, too, joining Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and (starting this season) Notre Dame. (Of those schools, only Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State have women's hockey.)

We'll see what happens, but it seems like a good step in trying to grow a sport that should keep growing. What other schools might take the NHL up on its study? What schools would you like to see add hockey?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rivera, brothers to play in Maccabiah Games

Minnesota State sophomore-to-be Nick Rivera will be playing for the United States in the 20th World Maccabiah Games in Israel next month. Joining Rivera on the roster are his brothers, Luke and Jacob. They will leave for training camp on Saturday and then head to Jerusalem next week before starting playing on July 5.

You can read more about Rivera's interest in the event and about the Games themselves in my Free Press article here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Michigan Tech names coach

While I was out last week ...

Michigan Tech filled the final coaching opening in college hockey by hiring assistant Joe Shawhan to replace the departed Mel Pearson.

Shawhan was an assistant under Pearson, now the Michigan coach, since 2014 and worked wth the Huskies' goaltenders and defensemen.

He's had 10 years of college coaching experience, including stops at Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State, and another 10 in junior hockey. As head coach/GM for the Soo Indians from 1995-2005, he became the winningest coach in the history of the North American Hockey League (474-162-43).

Shawhan was a goaltender for Lake Superior State from 1982 to 1987 and is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He finished his college degree at Northern Michigan.