Ben Holden: Always Making College Hockey Better

Photo provided by Dave Starman

If you asked any fan of Men’s College Hockey at the Division One Level to name their favorite national announcer of this sport, you would get some names of people all doing great things. One common name in that group would most likely include Ben Holden. The proud Michigander has been in this game for well over a decade, and has lent his voice to some of its premiere moments in primetime games. One of his most memorable goal calls came on the Austin Poganski penalty shot overtime goal against Minnesota Duluth on February 19, 2016. The tone of the call, as Holden often does in the many sports he calls throughout the year, matched the moment. The call, and the goal were so good together, the next fall at NCHC Media Day, Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry told Holden that the clip was the first one on the recruiting video. Holden said of that moment that it was ” the best goal call of my college hockey career.”

A lot of things went into that moment, as do go into every broadcast for Holden. His former partner on CBS Sports, Dave Starman was effusive with his praise. For what makes Holden a consumate pro, Starman said that “his preparation, and communication with his team is what does it.” Throughout all of his calls, Holden knows how to match his tone and energy to the game being played while never dropping the energy level. Even in lopsided games, he knows how to bring fans along and get them as invested in the moment as he is. For this year, Holden will be doing games on the Big 10 Network, and be pursuing other opportunities in this sport as they arise. Over the summer he is broadcasting select games for Major League Rugby.

Regardless of the sport, Starman sees the value in Holden and was clear of his potential, saying that in comparing Holden to NHL announcers, “he would be in the top 10 in radio or on TV HANDS DOWN no questions asked.” He further went on to compare Holden’s style to another legend in the sport, calling him ” Gary Thorne lite.”

Wherever he goes to call the game, Holden, according to Starman, is always in search of two things, a Tim Hortons, and many storylines to broach throughout his time on air. He knows how to involve his entire team, and set up his color commentator well. As Starman explained, “because of his personality I never felt he would leave me without something to say.” Finally, he added another consistent trait of Holden’s saying “the one thing that he would always bring to the table is how do we make the show better.”

Holden is thankful for all that the sport has given him, saying ” the game has given me so much.” Since 2004 he has been calling games in this sport, and has been a part of some of its biggest moments. The Poganski overtime penalty shot marker, the advent of video review, the rise of NHL talent coming through this great sport, the last games of the previous iteration of the CCHA, the first seven years of the NCHC culminating with broadcasting the Omaha Pod, and so many more moments have Holden’s clear, unique, and smooth voice guiding us along. Holden’s unique story, and inspiration of his grandfather, his Navy background, and consistent persistence in this sport are all inspiring markers for those looking to get into this game in the professional sense, and not being sure of the path.

Ben Holden who is a, consummate professional is proof that this game welcomes and rewards those who put in the hard work, and a model not just for broadcasters at this level, but for those looking to get involved covering a sport they love professionally, and an inspiration to keep grinding and pushing ahead.

As Holden said of the upcoming season ” let’s keep making memories.” This game and broadcasting in general, and is better because Ben Holden and his unique and consistent dedication to his craft is a part of it. In terms of what he wants to see in college hockey, it centers around one principle, ” let’s showcase these guys more,” Holden would support uniformity in ice surfaces, and for those that want to wear them, half shields like those in the NHL wear.

To sum up what many in this game think of Ben, his preparation, personality, and persistence, we close with Starman, who simply said of Holden, “he is just money.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Ricky Boysen finds a home: More on his commitment to Trinity College

Photo Credit : Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Versatile, dependable, and consistent, if you asked Head Coach of the Northeast Generals Bryan Erikson to describe Rickey Boysen as a player, we bet those words have been used multiple times over his two years as a General. When the Generals needed a big hit, or play made, he was often the one to help lead the effort in providing those things.

Now, another 2000 born player for Erikson has found an NCAA home, as Boysen is off to the prestigious Division Three Trinity College Bantams to play for a group that has seen a lot of success in recent years. Boysen finished his time as a General with 29 points in 52 games, and brings an instant presence to the offensive and defensive zones for the Bantams.

As Erikson said of what Ricky’s commitment means, and the fit of Trinity for him, ” It’s an unbelievable fit. Ricky is a great kid and a very smart one. Trinity is an amazing school academically and hockey wise. He joins former General and one of his great friends in Gerry Marretta. Coach Matt Greason does an amazing job and I know that he is going to love Ricky. Ricky is such a great get for them. He does everything well. He can score BIG goals. He is great in the D zone, he hits, blocks shots and is tough as nails. I am really proud of Ricky. I’m jealous of Trinity because they will get him for 4 years. I only got 2. Going to miss him a lot.”

Boysen always can skate with any team he is on, and will have the chance to make his legacy known with the Bantams in short order. He will have four years to leave the Bantams in an even better spot than the program already is, having multiple conference championships in the past six seasons, and always fielding a competitive roster. For Erikson, the impression Boysen left in Attleboro will not soon be forgotten, and as a player, Erikson is always looking for more like him.

That is, he always wants players that want to work, improve, enjoy the game, are good humans, and like to learn from mistakes and get better every single day. That is what it takes to play for him, and those same traits will serve Boysen well in Trinity College, the professional game, and in any job Boysen takes whenever his hockey career is complete on the ice.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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The Misfits Return: How Mitch’s Misfits are planning to return to in person cheering this fall

The first time we saw the power of Mitch’s Misfits as a student cheering section, they were at the Hall of Fame game in the 2019-2020 campaign at Ralph Engelstad Arena. That very same game had in attendance the new leader of the Misfits for the 2021-2022 season, Olivia Wery.

As she said of that experience, and many other positives in her time as a Misfit, along with her choice to run to be the leader of the group, ” the leadership team of our organization has all graduated, giving myself and several others the privilege of continuing on the legacy of Mitch’s Misfits. I feel very fortunate to have been elected president of the organization that has defined my college experience the last two years. On a whim, I decided to sign up for a trip to play the University of North Dakota with Mitch’s Misfits. To be honest, I had never been one to step outside of my comfort zone. But for some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to travel 9 hours in a van with people I had never met to watch a hockey game. I had been quickly welcomed into the tight-knit group of friends with open arms. Going on the trip is without a doubt the best decision of my college years and as president of Mitch’s Misfits, I want to give that same opportunity to others.”

If you have not heard of the Misfits, they are a tight knit group of Michigan Tech Students who travel around the country to watch their team. The Huskies are one of the legacy programs of this sport, have a fanatical following, and draw positive notoriety to the sport unlike many other student sections in this game. They have been known to chant Let’s Go Huskies from puck drop until the first whistle, no matter how long it takes, and they, on their own, competed with the volume of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, just like they do at every road locale they travel to. They also keep flags in John Macinnes Student Ice Arena for every state, province, and country that their players on that team are from. This year, they are adding the flag of Australia, as Tyrone Bronte is coming to play for the Huskies, making him the first Australian Ice Hockey player to play for the storied school.

As Wery said of their next steps,

“Upon the registration of classes for this fall, the university planned to have students attend classes in person. I am sure that this is still the plan at the moment, but we have not received word about the attendance allowed in at sporting events. I am sure that MTU is going to follow the indoor sports fan capacity limit of 25% set by the state of Michigan, but we are hoping that this percent will see an increase before the start of the season (multiple schools in the state are planning for full crowds come this fall, so as of now, things look good for a full house for the Huskies).”

As the State of Michigan lifts Covid-19 restrictions, Wery has every reason to expect her school to follow suit.

Regarding the goal for the season, Wery kept it simple

” We believe that this season our goal is to re-establish ourselves as the best student section in college hockey in addition to keeping alive as many of our traditions as possible. One of these traditions is waving the state or country flag of our starting players when they are called, in addition to waving all the flags every time the fight song is played.”

In addition, she added ” Additionally, we have purchased new cowbells(that come with a lifetime warranty) so that we can come back even louder than before.”

Wery noted the quick response of the school, adding “since the start of the pandemic, the university had been encouraging regular testing of students, staff, and members of the community. In the last few months of the school year, they were able to set up a vaccination site on campus. I had been tested several times on campus and got vaccinated as soon as it became available” As more Huskies, and Michiganders get vaccinated, the state is planning to allow full capacity at its live events, and the Huskies and its Misfits are hopeful that all of them will be able to cheer for their team, in person.

Going forward, she notes how new students can join the Misfits, saying ” We plan on having a booth at the annual student organization fair at the beginning of the school year. It is a great opportunity for students to meet organizations like ours and learn how to get involved. Our booth typically gains a lot of attention because we allow students to hit the gong and play sauce toss if they would like.”

In addition to all of that, she is most excited to have “the atmosphere that comes with having a full capacity. I feel very fortunate to have attended some of the games near the end of the season, but the atmosphere wasn’t the same.” She further went on to lament, saying ” I find it unfortunate that there are two years of new students who haven’t been able to experience the one-of-a-kind atmosphere that we are able to produce at our home games.” She added more depth to her candidacy, explaining that “the reason that I ran for president is that I wanted to introduce these students to the addictive thrill of the atmosphere, in addition to recreating the environment that our players and team staff love to play in every night. ”

Finally, Wery, like the rest of the Misfits, is excited for so many things in the 2021-2022 campaign.

She said ” There are so many things to be excited about. We got some great players through the transfer portal and we’re looking forward to seeing the familiar faces of Mark Sinclair and Justin Misiak for another season. We’re excited to be back in person to hockey games and see familiar faces from the community. We’re excited to play Wisconsin, Notre Dame, St. Thomas, Clarkson, and we always look forward to sweeping Northern! Overall, I think we’re most excited for the season to get going where we are able to attend games in person”

The Misfits are the best, and most consistent student section that we have seen across college hockey. Few rival their passion, and consistency to support of their team, and even fewer travel all around the nation to see their team play, and drown out the opposition on the road like the Misfits can. In the season of getting back to whatever a post-pandemic normal could be, having the Misfits at full strength is a good harbinger of more good things happening in this sport, amidst the challenges it always has, and will continue to face. College Hockey is better for having the Misfits, and Wery is ready for the challenge of leading the loudest student group in this sport.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Young and McCanney to the NAHL Top Prospects Game: Read more

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Every year, the NAHL holds a showcase for its top uncommitted prospects, and top prospects as asked for by NHL Central Scouting in conjunction with the Robertson Cup. This year the team will see two players, Jonathan Young and Liam McCanney suit up for their division as two uncommitted players ready to showcase to the NCAA why they both deserve Division One offers in a year that has been even more tough for them to be secured. Both are high energy, and effort players who can defend in their own end, with potential scoring upside in the future.

From Head Coach Bryan Eriskon, he commented on the even at large:

“It’s unfortunate that we only got 2 non goalie selections but that is a by product of not having a successful season as far as wins and losses go. But Liam and Jonathan are so deserving (as we thought a lot of players were). We are deep in the process with both and I think for anyone without a D1 commitment at this point it will be very hard. But all we can do is keep making the calls and seeing where schools are at.”

On Liam and Young’s next steps he said ” And then Liam and Younger need to go out and perform at a high level in front of all of the Coaches that will be there as we expect every school to have a representative in the building. I am happy for them both and happy that they will get the chance to perform in front of D1 schools finally. The Portal, Covid, the 5th year of eligibility,… (programs like RMU shutting down and UAH suspending their play). Now that they can see Liam and Younger in person we hope they can find a fit.”

On Anton Castro playing for the NHL Central Scouting team, Erikson added

” And Anton Castro will be representing us as well as a selection by Central Scouting. Hugo Haas was also selected but he is unable to get back into the country for the games. But we are thrilled for Anton and really looking forward to seeing him showcase his skills in front of NHL teams. ”

This weekend, although the Generals team will not be playing in Blaine, multiple players of theirs will be, all of them looking to prove they have what it takes to earn and offer, or in Castro’s situation, be selected by an NHL team next month.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

Tyler Cooper to St. Olaf: More from the Generals

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Bryan Erikson, Head Coach of the Northeast Generals always talks about having players of character who can also play the game well. Tyler Cooper fits that bill. The speedy forward put up numbers of a two way player, but Erikson expects that he will score even more for the Oles of St. Olaf. In addition, Erikson discussed the process for Cooper, able to find a home in the first of five recruiting classes effected directly by the extra year afforded to all players who played in the 2020-2021 campaign, marred by the Covid-19 pandemic. For Mules fans wondering about Cooper, look at some of his game tape from the past season, his effort from shift to shift is consistent, and he brings a high level of drive to his game. In a cycle not marred by the pandemic and its ramifications, Cooper may have had some more looks from Division One schools.

As Erikson said of the English national team player

” The entire process is frustrating this year with the 5th year and the portal being crazy but it is what it is. We always prepare all of our players to be grateful to be able to play hockey anywhere at the next level. St. Olaf is an outstanding school and hockey program that will be a great fit for Coop. He is a great kid that can fill the net. He is tough the play against, works hard and is a great great kid on and off the ice. I think it’s going to be a great fit for everyone involved. Really proud of Tyler.”

Of the process still ongoing for his uncommitted players Erikson added

“We are still working on all our other 2000’s. They all have amazing D3 opportunities awaiting them but I am still pushing for something to happen at the D1 level. None of our players will end up at anything less than a great school and hockey program no matter the level. Each will have the opportunity to play after college as long as they perform like we think they can. But hoping something shakes free with Young and a few others. Tough process but also tough for the schools in the mix.”

The reality of finding a Division One home for all uncommitted 2000 born players is the toughest of any class over the next five seasons. To their credit, the Generals have remained focused on finding the best fit for the player as composed to the best fit to burnish the legacy of their team.

One thing that made life tougher for Erikson’s uncommitted players is the closure of the Robert Morris program. On the impact of the decision he said ” It really hurt. Just when some kids were getting some looks 20 + kids became available.” Coaches across the game now have even more players in the crowded transfer portal to consider against the uncommitted players looking for a home. The timing of the decision made things even worse.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Atlantic Hockey: What could come next

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

The Atlantic Hockey Association is in an interesting situation. Because of the terribly short sighted descision of Robert Morris’s two leaders, their president and head of the board, one of the legacy members of the conference, as of today, will not play ice hockey at the division one level. As such, the conference’s remaining teams have a lot to discuss at their ongoing director’s meetings taking place over the month .

From this past March, Comissioner Bob Degregorio said of expanding from 11 teams, “We’ll see what progress will be made. The directors have to look at a lot of things. We know that we want to get back to 12 teams, but what’s the right number? Is it 12? Is it 13? Or is it 14? How big do we want to be? Do we want to stay at 12? They have a lot to talk about in regards to expansion. Nothing has been pre-determined. ”

Right now, if all three pitches of Alabama Huntsville, Long Island, and the other team the Comissioner discussed came to pass, the conference would then have 13 teams, in the realm of possibility.

Since the University of Conneticut Huskies left to Hockey East, there are more than a few quotes from the comissioner on getting the conference back to 12 teams at least. At one point, the Chargers pitched Atlantic Hockey before aceptnce into the WCHA in their last round of potential expansion.

With all of the shifting dynamics of this conference, let’s go through options facing the 10 teams left.

Stay at 10

Every publicly available comment from the comissioner shows that the members of Atlantic Hockey value being at least a 12 team league. In addition, because of how late Dr. Chris Howard decided to go ahead with his descision to elminate one of the most sucessful teams in the history of the confernence, the remaining ten members could find themselves in a bind. In a league where money is always part of the discussion, to give some teams extra conference games without travel compensation would not seem fair. For example, if Air Force was traveling to Robert Morris for two games, where do you then send them? Take another school like AIC, should they have to travel to another school in Pennsylvania, Mercyhurst, for a weekend and have two less home games (if the Colonials were coming to Springfield). Cash flow is a vital part of keepng all of these programs healthy, and staying at 10 members, with a schedule bound to harm the bottom line of every school losing a home series against the Colonials, does not seem ideal in the short run.

In addition, you cannot have teams add non conference games uniformly, as many members already have their non conference schedules decided, and many members of the other five conferences don’t have games available to be played. So, you are left with a choice of stasis which does not help anyone in the conference. Had the Colonials made their fateful announcement a few months ago, perhaps teams outside of Atlantic Hockey could have more easily filled the void for this year on the non conference side, and the league could have seen how ten looked for a year. Now, it is not clear if that result produces the best outcome.

Option Two: Replace, and add

Alabama Huntsville can play this year, based on info from sources in or around the hockey program, if granted admission into a conference, the puck is on the stick of Atlantic Hockey Athletic Directors in that regard. The Chargers could be handed the schedule to be given to the Colonials, and play it. The league could even make the Chargers travel for more games in the first year, or perhaps propose a higher subsidy than what Huntsville is offering (25000 dollars per series to all visiting AHA teams in the regular season, and in the postseason as well). Any counter offer could be for one year to help offset the financial loss of the Colonials to the other 10 members in the conference. In subsequent years, the initial parameters of the pitch could hold form, or the directors could propose something else.

As for adding, in two years, if the league wanted to get to 12 teams (we say two years because every indication given, and the reason the Chargers suspended their efforts for the 2021-22 campaign was due to AHA not looking to expand from 11 at all). The Sharks are a program on the rise, with strong financial backing, a demonstrated season of tough competition as an independent, and lead by Brett Riley. He knows how to compete, build programs, and has a strong pipeline of players coming to Long Island. As the Sharks have most of their games figured out for this season, canceling a bunch of games for conference admission this year does not seem prudent. In future years, they could join the conference, and expand the reach of the conference with a like minded institution looking to grow its presence.

Option Three: Replace and add two more

If three teams are on the expansion docket for Atlantic Hockey this summer, well the league could play an unbalanced schedule at 13 in 2-3 years with a school like Navy as the third team. That grows the game of college hockey, and if done right could grow the financial budget of each participating school. Having Navy be the southernmost school would give Mercyhurst, Huntsville, and everyone else in the conference another good place to play, an instant service academy rivalry in another field, and national eyes on the sport.

Regardless of the choice, it is clear that the Athletic Directors in this great league have a lot to consider. Consider one final quote from the Commissioner (while keeping in mind that he is not the decision maker on allowing any of these teams in to the league) on Huntsville’s last pitch to the league before they got into the WCHA (work credit to Chris Lerch of USCHO) (he thought that the WCHA was a good fit for them at the time) ” It’s important to college hockey that this program continue.” Well, now we get to see that quote put to its test this month, and see what expansion chances bring the other schools in need of a conference home, from programs formed, and yet to be formed.

Generals Add Three Through NAHL Supplemental Draft

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

Today, General Manager Matt Dibble, and Head Coach Bryan Erikson welcomed three more players to the Family of the Northeast Generals for their 2021-2022 campaign. All three selections in the NAHL Supplemental Draft, a draft happening for the second time today, have college interest at the Division One level.

More importantly, to Erikson and Dibble, the philosophy for picking players in this draft, and in every other opportunity they have to add talent centers around fit. Erikson has cut players ranked by NHL Central Scouting because they did not mesh well with his group, and Dibble and Erikson each value players who are good humans first, and ones they can work with more than on ice players who may be a bit higher end, but off the ice do not work well with others. That philosophy will be on full display in the NAHL Entry Draft next month where the Generals will make six selections to add to their player pool ahead of their main camp next season.

Today, the Generals selected Swedish winger Linus Petersson with their first choice, Michael Woll with their second pick, and Tyler Procious with their final pick. Of the three, Petersson’s upside seems to be the most immediate with his 6’4″ frame and ability to find the net. The Generals will be adding a power forward to a top six group that could see Jake Dunlap return to it, among their other superb veterans. He only played eight games last season for his Sollentuna side in the under 20 league in Sweeden. His statistics from seasons before the last one profile as a power forward with scoring upside. If he can pitch in supplemental scoring to go along with his physical game in the top six, then Erikson and Dibble will have an impact power forward to help out a group of returners in the top six all with speed and skill.

As for Michael Woll, the brother of former Boston College Eagle and current Toronto Maple Leaf Joseph Woll, he brings a similar power forward game up the middle, along with a brief stint with the Madison Capitals of the USHL last season (two games). In addition, Erikson and Dibble have seen him play a lot, given that he plays with tender Sixten Jennersjo, and has played with Ryan Gordon and Jackson McCarthy.

Regarding Tyler Procious, the offensive defender has shown the ability to generate a large amout of points at the Tier One level, but did not see it come just yet in his season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. He will be given every opportunity to show the growth of the offensive side of his game at the USHL level, and the Generals retain his NAHL rights should that end up being the place he ends up playing at. He is a leader wherever he goes, and brings the intangibles and top-end skill together, the former being a requirement for Erikson and Dibble, the latter bringing promising upside.

As Erikson described of the picks today,

” We got all 3 players that Matt targeted. We had watched Linus quite a bit and it’s rare to see a 6’4 power forward that can fly. We think he slots right into our top 6. And Michael Woll plays right down the street at the prestigious Mount St. Charles and joins teammate Sixten Jennersjo and former teammates Ryan Gordon and Jackson McCarthy. Woll is another 6’4 forward that can skate well and fire the puck. Tyler is a player that has played for Matt Dibble’s summer program Roc City Elite that we are very familiar with. We hope he sticks in the USHL but wanted him to have a landing spot if it didn’t work out. He is an elite defender.”

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded journalism that can truly be free for all at this link:paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

Alabama Huntsville is a good fit for Atlantic Hockey this season: Here’s Why

Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography

Well, Atlantic Hockey has found itself down to ten member schools for the upcoming season. While we of course want Robert Morris reinstated, the league finds itself at a crossroads. What is a league always looking to get more into the national conversation to do when one of its legacy members, due to a callous, myopic, short sighted, and ill-explained decision faces an uncertain future ? (in a perfect scenario, we want Huntsville admitted this month, along with Long Island, Robert Morris brought back, and a divisional play system established, identical in terms of idea to the pod setup a year ago, but with some cross pod play allowed, team alignments to be determined).

Well, the reality of the upcoming college hockey season could actually set what the members could do for them.

For the conference, if it wants to get bigger, which it has the opportunity to do, as it will be entertaining pitches from Alabama Huntsville. Long Island, and one other school in meetings this June, the Chargers’ pitch for this season has to have a renewed interest. In addition, given all of the reschedules due to the pandemic-marred season we just completed, most non conference schedules are set. For most teams to add another non conference weekend, they would need to travel, and risk not going on a revenue guarantee. If teams added another conference weekend, then some will still add travel costs, with no money coming back to them in return.

Despite suspending their season and, as of now, not participating in the 2021-2022 campaign, sources around the program do not see the suspension as a bar to participate. Should Atlantic Hockey change their course for this season (based on sources around the conference, it seemed clear that expansion, prior to the Robert Morris news for the 2021-2022 campaign seemed unrealistic). Given the history of Huntsville Hockey, finding a conference is the only way to go, and given the changing landscape of Atlantic Hockey, the Chargers’ pitch for this season allows the league’s members to travel to some of their games and get paid for them, adds a market with a strong fan base (despite winning only two games at home, the Chargers had the third highest average attendance in this weird just finished season, and in the 19-20 campaign, before many of their roster came to town, the team outdrew eight Atlantic Hockey teams from that year).

Given the large number of players in the transfer portal, the lack of players lost in it by the Chargers (David Fessenden and Tyrone Bronte), and the amount of junior hockey age-outs looking for a Division One home, the time for the Chargers very well could be this summer, if Atlantic Hockey wants to even maintain the number of teams that it competed with in the 20-21 campaign. The mere fact that this program got two transfers to come to it during the month before its suspension should show how Huntsville Hockey is viewed by other teams. Players do not get advice to come anywhere from other colleges if the coaches do not have a trust of what the other staff is doing. We remember how happy Dominick Procopio and Matthew Jennings were to be coming to Huntsville, for both, this team and this city represent a fresh start, and for Jennings, it allows his parents to see him play, every night.

From a conference view, the Chargers have the academic bona fides to join the conference, the financial backing of a network of donors led by Sheldon Wolitski and Taso Sofikitis, and a long term plan to build an on campus arena. Oh, and they also have a network that includes relationships with the Nashville Predators, a growing NHL profile through the exploits of their most famous alum, Cam Talbot, and the Nashville Market within their grasp. Oh, and the Chargers pitch remains on the table. Ten schools all have a chance to make money (25000 dollars per series) every time they play a series in Huntsville. Sean Henry, President of the Predators, has noted early discussions about marquee games at Bridgestone Arena with the Chargers. Perhaps starting a southern hockey challenge tournament with the Chargers, another Atlantic Hockey team, and two programs from other leagues each year, combined with a massive club tournament, could serve as a kickoff to the season for everyone, promote the game, and more.

In the long run for Atlantic Hockey, the Chargers have a solid reason to be in the program. Academically, they belong, as Huntsville’s engineering programs, and relationship with NASA make it a unique member of any conference it would be in. The town is called Rocket City for a reason. On the ice, the Chargers play a gritty game that relies on team tenacity to do well, which helps individuals thrive in the group, a style that teams at the top end of the conference play, as good as anyone in the country.

Fiscally, this makes sense for the league, to grow the brand of the conference, this makes sense, academically, the Chargers make sense, and logistically, right now, Huntsville makes sense.

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Generals add size: More on Bryce Cooper

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

One consistent that the 2020-2021 Northeast Generals had on their backend was skilled size. Players like Alex Tertyshny showed the ability to play a cerebral game, defend well, and allow the speedy forwards the group had to operate. With Tertyshny heading to AIC, Head Coach Bryan Erikson and General Manager Matt Dibble have been working to update the rear guard of the Generals with more talent.

Enter, among their other defensive tenders, Bryce Cooper. His game plays similar in terms of efficient use of size to Terythsny. Cooper comes from the Colorado Rampage, a Tier One U18 team, where he utilized his six feet six inch tall frame to lead his team from the back end. As Erikson said of Cooper

” He moves very well laterally and plays with a great edge to his game.  He makes a great first pass and is quick to jump up in the play and is great with the puck on his stick.  He has a heavy shot and a great release.  Loved his compete level and the fact that he has finished all of his checks.  He is a real force out on the ice in all 3 zones and we feel he will be a huge addition to our rebuilt blueline.”

In addition, Erikson added

” Bryce is a monster at 6’6 but is a very good skater. Very physical. Hard to play against and has a lot of offensive ability to add. We think he will slide into our top 4 next year and be able to play in all phases of our game. He has a lot of D1 potential and we expect him to get a lot of attention by Hockey East and other programs in our area almost immediately.”

In terms of finding an impact ready player who will eat a lot of minutes, through the tender system, it seems like Erikson got one of the many players he is looking for. If Cooper can increase the offensive celling to his game, then more than just Hockey East Schools will be interested in him. It is his job to get better with the tools Erikson and his staff will give him. In the long run, if he can play anything like Tertyshny, more people at the next level will know his name very quickly.

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Opinion: College Hockey is a positive image driver-We wish RMU’s leaders understood that

Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics

What do we want this sport to be?

While we are not privy to the internal discussions the upper echelon of Robert Morris University management had about indiscriminately putting the future of everyone involved with two successful hockey programs up in a state of purgatory through immediate cessation of them, we hope to learn more in the coming days about those discussions. When multiple players speak of the university doing no more than a 10 minute Zoom chat with no opportunity for transparency or questions of any sort, with a bout an hour of notice of this wretched announcement to be made ahead of time, we are left wanting more answers.

One thing that many other national writers have touched on is the cruel way this horrid, wretched, no good to do at any time announcement was done.

First off, if the administration of Chris Howard believed that Hockey was not in the long term plans for Robert Morris, they owed everyone involved with both programs more notice than the mere minutes some players were given before this went public. A legacy program of Atlantic Hockey, and a CHA program fresh off pushing the number one team in the country to the brink in the NCAA Tournament were thrown aside for goals of the university, that no one seems to get.

It seems rather callous to anyone with this program to read a banner ad on the side of this reductive, overly simplified press release to have an banner ad on the side showing the philosophy of the school. ” Big enough to matter, small enough to care.” Tell that phrase to anyone associated with this program, and they will rightly be disgusted with you for bringing up a slogan that after this week, rings painfully hollow.

If hockey was not in the long term strategic interests of the school, that should have been announced far sooner, perhaps before the start of the season, or contingent upon private donations being secured to build an on campus arena, if the program was to fold due to a sport that has brought it international acclaim, it should have been announced as soon as possible to allow people to find employment and places to play for next year.

An already crowded transfer portal and late struggle to recruit players with 2000 birth years just got more crowded.

Functionally, for a school that, again, for some reason, touted its fundraising sucess in the same callous release where it ended so many hopes, dreams, jobs, and aspirations of all of those involved in it, the world of college hockey wonders.

Why not one more season?

What harm would there have been in allowing transfers, and playing the season out?

The broader scope of things

While the tragic choice to end Robert Morris Hockey was made by an administration without much reasoning beyond not wanting the sport on its campus, the release included this quote from President Howard that was, well interesting to us.

“We are saddened for the student-athletes who will be unable to continue in their sport at Robert Morris University and are committed to assisting them during this difficult time,” said RMU President Chris Howard. “However, this is the best course of action to leverage our strategic assets and position us for future growth.”

If this was the course of action, why it took until a leadership retreat last weekend is hard to justify.

In the grander scheme of this sport, while college hockey is expensive to run, the image and opportunity for brand building is unlike many other things at the Division One level. Instead of being a part of two growing sports in the men and women’s game ( 61 teams, and 41 teams respectively), the school has chosen to focus on football and basketball only with its new arena plans.

The rational person wonders?

Why cant this school where the money and desire to play the game is there not support it in its mission. Unlike Alabama Huntsville, no clear mandate for the program exists, no conference issues for either the men or women were ever present, and the money was there.

College Hockey gives the opportunity to a diverse (and hopefully soon to be growing again) group of schools around the country the opportunity to compete for a national championship, send players around the world, and on to the NHL. This sport has so much talent that has not been given the chance to play at its highest level that many aspire to, and for a sport that produces 33 percent of NHL rosters, it was thrown away at Robert Morris, not even worthy of its own press release, earlier announcement, opportunity for the players and program to say goodbye, or fundraise to save it (we hope the programs are given an opportunity by Howard to earn reinstatement).

To other interested schools

If you read this wondering about what schools like Tennessee State (conducting a feasibility study), Liberty, Lindenwood, Navy, and hopefully more, should do, we would encourage them to look at the amount of support not that the administration has, but at how the hockey community has rallied around Alabama Huntsville (reinstated last year after a massive fundraising campaign, and waiting for a new conference home), Alaska Anchorage (getting closer to playing as an independent once they hit the three million dollars raised), and now Robert Morris with over 15000 people interested in demanding answers from Howard on why the program was cut, and a chance to show long term strategic value to the school itself.