“We wanted to take our disappointment and sadness and make something of it.” Logan Bittle on the drive to save Robert Morris Hockey

Pittsburgh College Hockey Foundation and Rombert Morris Hockey Leader, Logan Bittle is optimistic.

Why?

Well, as he said of their efforts to help save the Colonials’ Hockey Programs

“We’re a lot better off than we were a week an a half a go.“

On why he started the foundation designed to help save Colonials College Hockey, he said ” we wanted to take our disappointment and sadness (around the initial way the programs were cut) and make something of it.

But, he cautioned of the early commitments “ it’s significant but we still need more significant money.”

This entire foundation stated out of an innate desire for people to help. Bittle was getting pledges to his email account. This model was not sustainable, and required some quick adjustments. As he said of why he started the foundation,” “ one of the main reasons we stated this foundation was the people we’ve met along the way.“

The goal is to help all those involved in working with saving Colonials Hockey. So far, the group is getting pledges from a wide variety of folks, both in a private, and business capacity, and as things get finalized, Bittle is excited to share more news when he can. While it is unclear what the official number of funds raised is, it is also clear that his group has put a big dent in that number.

His foundation has one week left to help raise enough funds to show long term viability for both teams to justify reinstatement. For the Colonials to be back on the ice, Bittle’s group, in conjunction with the university need to show not a specific number, but a sense of progress towards seven million dollars raised in total over the next five years.

While the hard number needed by the administration is vague, their willingness to help Bittle’s group is not, and very much real according to Bittle. Logically it then follows, if the support was not concrete it was not, this last-chance offering by the school would not have happened.

As to the logistics of running the teams next year, he left that up to the hockey staff left with each program. Bittle praised the efforts of Robert Morris in working together with them to be a part of a solution. On the support the teams have seen, Bittle said of the RMU community that, “it’s resilient and willing to help it’s own.“

As this effort progresses, we hope to have more on the hockey plans of the Colonials, should this drive hopefully get the back on the ice.

 

Pledge Form: Here is a link (click the word “link” to the pledge form Bittle’s Foundation is using to gather one time, and multi year contributions. The university needs to see long term viability financially for both programs. While more can be discussed on the hockey ramifications should reinnstatement happen, it is a reality that fundraising, for these teams, for the next week, is all that matters. If you are able to, please consider helping give two programs with a legacy of success at preparing men and women for life both on and off the rink a chance to continue that positive legacy moving forward.

Northeast Generals tender Joseph McGraw: Read more

In the game of hockey, you find the talent that works best for your team, regardless of how old they are (if they can play for you of course). Joseph McGraw is a fast center that will be a young player for the Northeast Generals next year. For General Manager Matt Dibble, he has seen McGraw first hand as part of the Roc City Elite organization that won a championship at the World Youth Championship this summer. McGraw was a dominant force for them, putting up 19 points in eight games.

The Generals, before adding any external help have a leader to pick from this summer. Look for more from the team on the reast of their team as the summer goes on.

McGraw plays the game with pace and passion, and has a more mature game than many of his future opponents do right now.

Hear from Head Coach Bryan Erikson on what Joseph McGraw brings to the team next year

” Joe will be the youngest player in the NA by far next year. I think some teams are scared off by a kid that won’t be 16 until mid December. But he has a high end skill set and a maturity on and off the ice that goes well beyond his years. I think he’s a high end D1 player that is just going to get better and better. He played for Matt Dibble at the 05 World Youth Championships and was dominant. I’m anxious to see how quickly he can adjust to the level of play at the NA.”

Erikson knows what it takes to win at this level , and he thinks McGraw has those skills in more.

General Manager Matt Dibble added , of McGraw “ Joe was a kid who bought into what we were doing in Philly and reaped the rewards with huge production. He led that team on and off the ice.

Joe has NHL upside, and I think will be a high end division 1 recruit come august 2022 (when schools can formally offer a player of his age). He has an elite stick and has some of the best vision I have ever seen. What can’t be seen on video, is his character and what a good teammate he is.

I had at least a dozen schools ask about him the last 2 weeks, per NCAA rules they can not talk with him this year but when they can I think many of them will be asking for his number.”

The puck drops for the Generals in about 57 days on their 2021-2022 campaign, and McGraw figures to be a big part of that.

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

Zachary Cline to the Generals: Read more

If you look at the Northeast Generals, their forwards over the past few years are consistently up tempo, and know how to play the game in all three zones. Their group, from rookie to veteran, when at their best plays a high IQ brand of hockey.

Zachary Cline, their newest tender, and Lake Superior State commit, does all of those things. He has done those things playing for the HoneyBaked Youth Program, one of the best hockey programs for full person development in the country.

Given the departures the Generals have had up front, with players like Jonathan Young, Rickey Boysen, and many more leaving, there will be chances up front for the dependable forward to play, right away. The Generals also get another player coming to Attleboro that will be going to Lake Superior State in a few seasons.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said

” Zach is a super skilled forward with an amazing motor and compete level. He had offers from a few NA teams but I think our relationship with Lake State helped tip it in our favor. We expect Zach to step in and play a top 9 role right away. We expect to utilize his speed, tenacity and skill to play in all situations.”

If you compare his notes on the Generals’ tenders this summer, you will sense a theme. For the strength of its team this season, all of its forwards will have to play as a unit, and put up goals in bunches. Cline has the potential to do just that, and the backing to do so. The 5’5″ winger plays his game with a physical snarl, and high ability to score in bunches.

With the speed he brings, he will get plenty of looks to score, and carve out a path to college hockey similar to that of former Denver Pioneer, Troy Terry, or perhaps that of Colin Bilek, a player that found his stride in Attleboro and got a Division One offer and went from there. While Cline is committed to be a Laker, he can improve his profile, and maybe earn a late round selection next season with a strong showing this year.

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

Liam McCanney to Stevenson: Read what he brings to the Mustangs

Photo Credit: Northeast Generals

When you look at the 2000 birth year players of the Northeast Generals you see a lot of common traits among them. Common among all of them is the amount of honesty and levity they bring to any group they play for. Liam McCanney is no exception. The power forward always brings a sense of leadership and a physical game, and that is no doubt part of the many reasons why the Mustangs offered him a spot on their team, one of the up and coming squads in Division Three.

In a year where hundreds remain in the transfer portal, one program folding for good (Robert Morris…. we hope this is reversed), and one program on suspension pending conference acceptance (Alabama Huntsville), and a glut of players taking their allowed extra year of eligibility afforded to them for playing in in the 2020-2021 campaign, the Mustangs are getting a Division One caliber player to join them.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said ” Liam is the D3 steal of the year. He is the poster boy for kids that got looked over or pushed out because of the 5th year, the portal and teams folding. But it’s a great school and opportunity. I have a great relationship with Coach Dawes and Coach Peffall. 2 great guys that do an awesome job. They are a good team so I never want to assume anything but I full expect Liam to be a top producer on Day 1. Just a great hockey player who is also an amazing kid. But when we look at programs to help our kids Stevenson is on a short list of programs we love. ”

Erikson added in the press release about McCanney’s commitment to attend Stevenson:

” But this is not a simple backup plan.  This is a tremendous opportunity for Liam to go to a great school that has a great hockey program led by 2 men that will get a ton out of Liam.  They do things the right way.  Our former goalie Marko Sturma is there and just loves it.  It’s a great school that will allow Liam to continue to play high level hockey and get a great education.  I am really proud of and happy for Liam.  I am going to miss him.”

The Mustangs will be a tough lineup to earn playing time in for McCanney, but his game should transfer well right away in an environment poised to help him develop on and off the ice.

As of now, the Generals have one 2000 born player yet to commit, Jonathan Young. The two way forward looks to have options at the Division One and Division Three levels, and hopefully soon Erikson can have helped find a home for all of his 2000 birth year players.

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

Generals Top Prospects group has strong day one: Read more

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy- Patrick Garriepy Photography

In the last showcase for uncommitted players, and those under the close eye of NHL teams at the NAHL level, the representatives of the Northeast Generals all came to play for their East Division side, each playing a role in their 4-1 win.

In net, Anton Castro stopped 20 of 21 shots and allowed his team to get off to a strong start. Castro got a chance to showcase his athletic style and poise early on as his east side faced a talented South Division group. Throughout his time in net, he kept his team ahead by using his athletic poise and strong sense to make the saves he could look routine, and make a few extraordinary saves as well. College hockey is full of goalies with his athleticism, and facing the some of the best players in this league today, Castro showed why he is a Division One talent, and showcased arguably his best outing of the year in front of a jam packed building of NHL scouts today in Blaine Minnesota. Whenever his time in junior hockey is done, he will be a Boston University Terrier.

As for the skaters Castro came to Blaine with, they need to find a college hockey home for next season. Both Jonathan Young and Liam McCanney have had some Division One interest, and for the first time all year, multiple teams got to see them ply their crafts in person. Both lived up to their expectations. Young had an empty net goal, and two assists, while McCanney had an assist on Young’s empty net goal. Both showed off why Bryan Erikson, Generals Head Coach, cannot stop saying good things about these players.

As Erikson said of all of his group from today

” I thought they both did exactly what they needed to do and that was standout. They both played with pace, were physical and showed up on the scoresheet. Need them to repeat that tomorrow to continue to catch the eyes of D1 College Coaches! The league does such a great job putting on this event. The building was jammed with college and NHL scouts. It’s a great atmosphere and it gives everyone playing a great chance to leave it all on the ice and see what happens.”

For Castro he added

“And Anton was great stopping 20 of 21 shots and the goal there was nothing he could do. Just another great performance by a Generals player.”

All three get one more chance to showcase what they can do in front of the NHL and NCAA scouts and coaches assembled in Blaine tomorrow as their Eastern side takes on the Central Division at noon.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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Valiantly, the Generals come up just short against Maryland 4-2: More on the effort

Photo Credit : Patrick Garriepy Photography

The Northeast Generals, despite being out of the playoff race, still had a lot to play for tonight against the Maryland Black Bears. Despite the 4-2 final stat line in the regulation loss, the team showed cohesion, and were an interesting call away from having a 3-3 tie heading into overtime against Maryland. There was a lot of good for this group that came in this game, as they dealt with adversity on two interesting calls, and still found a way to fight until the very end, losing 4-2 because of a late empty net power play goal they conceded.

That interesting call came late in the third period. The Generals appeared to have the equalizer, but the crew lead by referee Jake Muzik blew the play dead for potentially incidental contact. The ensuing faceoff was held in the offensive zone, not in the neutral zone where it should have been if incidental contact was the issue. After the officials went to discuss things, they upheld waving the goal off. Hannes Kollen, Maryland’s netminder was contacted, but Head Coach Bryan Erikson contends that happened after the puck cross the line, and is pretty upset at the crew of Muzik for this, and an incident where at the end of the first period, Hugo Haas, Northeast’s netminder was interfered with, no penalty was assessed to the Black Bear who did it, but in retaliation, Alex Tertyshny got a roughing minor.

On the no goal Erikson said ” Ref wouldn’t talk to me to tell me why it wasn’t a goal. Puck clearly went in and clearly went in before any type of contact was made with him by our player that was high sticked in the face. Just a terrible call and a gutless move by the ref to not talk to me about it. I didn’t yell once the entire game at least show me and your profession a little respect.”

On the Haas incident that ended the first period, Erikson said ” Once again ref wouldn’t talk to me. So I’m assuming we are just allowed to run goalies unless we score then it’s no goal.”

Besides that, on the whole, the Generals played a sound game and pushed the pace of play. They were spurred on by captain Dylan Schuett’s goal in the first. He took a superb feed from Jake Dunlap and put the puck home to bring the Generals within one goal. As Erikson said of Dylan’s improvement since comfiting to Long Island University back in December ” He has relaxed a little bit and it’s freed up his offensive game. The kid is battling so many injuries it’s crazy what he has to do just to even suit up. But then to go out there and play well and score a great goal on a ridiculous play by Dunlap is great.” Of the goal’s impact Erikson added ” Dylan’s goal seemed to give us a little extra jump same as David’s did. We have struggled scoring lately so it was great to get on the board and to remember how to just laugh and have fun.”

Going into the season finale tomorrow night, two things stood out. First, when we asked Erikson for any good off ice memory from his class of 2000 birth year players playing their final game of junior hockey tomorrow night, he couldn’t saying instead ” I can’t single any one kid out. I put some much time into the 2000’s and in return I get the best gift. I get to be apart of their journeys. I get to share inside jokes, laugh at them, with them, laugh at myself. We have so much fun and I am just so proud and honored to say that I coach this special group of kids.”

He went on in his message to the Generals ahead of the finale ” Just enjoy this. Enjoy the meals, the jokes, the boys. Have fun. You will remember this group forever so let’s just regroup and leave it on the ice tomorrow so we don’t have any regrets.”

Finally, he noted something that has become emblematic of this group, and what he looks for from them, and every team he coaches on tomorrow night. He said, “we just came out with more focus on playing as a team rather than as individuals. And that is always our key to success. No one player is better than the team. And I expect the same tomorrow.”

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