St. Cloud, MN – Although it’s the “Dog Days of Summer” things are moving forward on the college hockey landscape. Here’s some updates that may be of interest:
Huskies Return to School
With SCSU classes scheduled to begin on August 24, members of the SCSU men’s hockey team have returned to campus including international students. Although the Huskies coaching staff has not released the team captains for the 2020-21 season, captains practices are scheduled to begin on Monday, August 3rd. The team will have specific protocals in place to limit the number of players in the locker room at one time. They’ll prepare for practice in pods of nine (locker room, weight room etc) prior to hitting the ice.
Dr. Michael Stuart, USA Hockey’s Chief Medical and Safety Officer noted in a recent interview “the players need to adhere to the basic principles of personal hygiene, social distancing, protective equipment and a clean environment. This includes frequently washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and using personal water bottles and towels. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to it. So, we certainly want to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. If they’re not sick even, you want to maintain a distance of six feet when possible by avoiding crowded locker rooms, getting dressed at home, putting on and taking off skates while sitting on chairs that are spaced out in the lobby.”
Granted, ice hockey players have more protective equipment than any other sport but it’s inherent in hockey to have physical contact and heavy breathing with players in close proximity on the bench. In Minnesota alone, the 20-29 demographic has the largest incidence of reported COVID-19 confirmed cases so it would be naive to think that a certain percentage of NCAA athletes in whatever sport have already been exposed prior to returning to campus. It’s simply that this age group of well-conditioned athletes typically show minimal to no symptoms.
Bauer hockey, an expert in manufacturing face shields for ice hockey, also developed the Bauer Medical Protective Face Shield a one-size-fits-all medical grade solution intended for health-workers. In August, they have plans to release their Concept 3 Splash Guard which fits their Concept 3 player face mask to provide additional splash protection around the mouth while maintaining a high level of vision and breathability. There are already teams that have placed their order for this equipment in readying for the 2020-21 season.
Former Coach Craig Dahl Reaches Another Milestone
Former SCSU head coach Craig Dahl, who steered the program into the Division I era, recently announced his retirement after 15 years with the Principal Financial Group. Most recently, he worked as a Regional Director out of the Rochester, NY office. Ushering the Huskies into Division I play, he compiled a 291-249-47 record at SCSU and a career mark of 407-41-57. His teams competed in five NCAA appearances and the Huskies were WCHA post-season champions in the 2000-01 season. While working in New York Dahl also devoted some time as a volunteer coach for SUNY school, Geneseo State University and was instrumental in the creation of a Division III hockey program at Nazareth College, a private university also located in Rochester. In retirement, his plans are to continue to assist former Clarkson University coach George Roll on a volunteer basis at Nazareth.
St. Thomas Makes the Jump to Division I
It has been discussed at length in the media but after being unceremoniously dumped by the MIAC, the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul / Minneapolis, MN) was fast-tracked by the NCAA to make the enormous leap from Division III to Division I athletics.
University of St. Thomas women’s hockey announced previously they would be joining the WCHA for the 2021-22 season. The men will join the newly -formed CCHA in 2021-22 and the balance of their 22 sports will join the Summit League with the exception of football which will be a FCS non-scholarship program and join the Pioneer League along with regional schools North Dakota State University, University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University. Other than the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas will be the only other full-fledged Division I school in the state of Minnesota.
The announcement made early in July, obviously creates uncertainty in expenses as the Tommies were forced to make this decision during uncertain economic times, especially for educational insitutions. Much like North Dakota State University who transitioned over a four-year period in 2004, the hope is that this move will create an increase in enrollment and the visibility of Division I Athletics will increase fundraising. However, Al Cotrone, the school’s vice president of enrollment told the Star Tribune “This isn’t (just) an athletic move, this is part of a strategic long-term move for the university academically. I think this is just part and parcel of that continued trajectory for us.”
Concerning men’s hockey, St. Thomas vice president and athletic director, Phil Esten noted in a statement. “This gives us an opportunity to create strong regional intraconference rivalries, face off against some of the most storied programs in college hockey, and develop a program that can skate with anyone in the country. Since the first conversation I had with Don Lucia, I believed this a great fit and am grateful we’ll be included in the inaugural year of the new CCHA.”
CCHA commissioner Don Lucia stated “St. Thomas has an outstanding academic and athletic tradition with experienced and proven leadership as they transition to Division I. St. Thomas fits nicely within the CCHA footprint and impressed us all with the level of commitment they have for their hockey program. The CCHA welcomes St. Thomas, the Twin Cities media and hockey fans to our league.”
The CCHA will welcome a program with an extensive history of ice hockey going back 96 seasons and with 1,164 wins is more than any other Division III program. They’ve made 36 consecutive trips to the MIAC playoffs and 10 trips to the NCAA playoffs. They’ve also won 6 of the last 9 MIAC regular season titles.
According to US News and World Reports, in 2018 the University of St. Thomas endowment was $102.4 million.
NCAA Approves Three-on-Three Overtime Rule
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved changes to the overtime format in men’s and women’s ice hockey, starting with the 2020-21 academic year. Under the new rule, all teams tied at the end of regulation will play a five-minute, 3-on-3 sudden-victory overtime period to decide a winner. If neither team scores, a three-person shootout could be used in conference games or in-season tournaments for advancement purposes.
In regular-season nonconference games that go into overtime, teams are required to play a five-minute, 3-on-3 sudden-victory period. If neither team scores, the result of the game would be a tie.
The “spin-o-rama” move, where the player with the puck completes a 360-degree turn while approaching the goal, will not be allowed.
Other updates included allowing teams to choose which faceoff circle the puck would be dropped in at the start of a power play or after icing violations and allowing officials to issue a warning on faceoff violations instead of ejecting the center. If a second violation by the same team occurs during the same faceoff, a two-minute, bench-minor penalty for delay of game will be called.
Finally, the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee voted to remove the rule that required team members to shake hands after a game. They took the position that it is best for conferences or schools to decide postgame sportsmanship protocols rather than for a national rule to establish the only postgame sportsmanship protocol.
NCAA Allows Social Justice Statements on Uniforms
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) has announced it will allow student-athletes in all sports to wear social justice statements on their uniforms.
According to CollegeAD: “Players will have two places on their jerseys — one on the front and one on the back — to “express support and voice their opinions” as authorized by the school or conference.
- The patch on the front, which most sports already allowed, as authorized by the school or conference, may be a commemorative/memorial patch (names, mascots, nicknames, logos and marks) intended to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes. The patch cannot exceed 2¼ square inches.
- On the back of uniforms, student-athletes can replace their last name with names or words to celebrate or memorialize people, events or other causes.
Not all players are required to wear the patch on the front or sleeve, but it must be the same for all team members. The names or words on the back of the uniform can vary by player.”
Huskies Warming House Heating Up
Technology allows literally anyone to do a podcast these days. As a result, there are numerous hockey focused podcasts out there covering every aspect of the game. Upstart, Huskies Warming House Podcast is the creation of Noah Grant and Nick Maxson, two guys that gained media experience broadcasting SCSU men’s and women’s hockey on student-run KVSC last season.
The guys are operating their site on a shoestring budget but that’s the great thing about it – their passion and excitement for the sport really shines through. Their primary focus has been on St. Cloud State University Hockey but they also sprinkle in news and notes on other regional and national hockey including the NHL. Their weekly podcast has included some impressive guests including Brett Larson, Craig Dahl, Bob Motzko, Katie Emmer, NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton and others. They even had yours truly stumble through an episode. The guys do their homework, are prepared and most importantly allow their guests to talk rather than making the podcast about them.
The guys are continuing to make improvements to the web site and are putting a lot of energy into this product. CenterIceView does not place any advertising on its sites and we rarely promote products but we’ll give them four stars. I encourage you to visit their site and listen to some of the episodes.
Huskies Illustrated Features SCSU Hockey History
CenterIceView has literally thousands of photos in its archive. Our sister site HuskiesIllustrated.com has begun to feature this illustrated history of St. Cloud State Hockey on its Twitter site @HuskiesIllust . If you’re on Twitter give it a follow and have a fun look at SCSU men’s and women’s hockey over the past several decades. Granted, some of the early photos were not taken with the sophisticated equipment we now have but I think you’ll enjoy this look back.
- I met with coach Larson recently and it appears he’s rehabbed nicely from hip replacement surgery that he underwent in June. Years of hockey took a toll on his hip making the surgery necessary. That procedure is so advanced it can be completed in an hour and a half procedure on an outpatient basis. It’s been about two months and he’s already been out on the golf course. Good to see.
- Congratulations are in order to SCSU men’s hockey assistant coach Nick Oliver and partner in marriage Alex whose wedding ceremony was on Saturday, August 1st.
- New Associate Head Coach Dave Shyiak has completed his move to the St. Cloud area from Kalamzoo, MI where he was an assistant to Andy Murray since 2014.
- The SCSU Hockey Alumni Camp, Alumni Games and Alumni Golf Event are scheduled for August 25-27. More information is here.
- With early season non-conference games in limbo don’t be surprised to see a few exhibition games scheduled between regional Division I teams. Approval by the NCAA would be necessary to schedule such games.