Franklin Pierce hires former UConn coach Marshall to lead program

Bruce Marshall coached Connecticut from 1988 to 2012 (photo: UConn Athletics).

Former Connecticut coach Bruce Marshall has been named the head coach at Franklin Pierce.

Marshall, who took a leave of absence from the Huskies in November 2012 and resigned in January 2013, will be the fourth head coach at the Division II school in Rindge, N.H.

He replaces Jaymie Harrington, who was 41-115-15 in seven seasons, including 3-20-1 in 2014-15.

Marshall spent parts of 25 seasons leading UConn, taking the program from Division III to Division I. He was 351-386-72 with the Huskies

“I am very excited to be a part of the Franklin Pierce community and am looking forward to getting back on the ice and helping student-athletes reach their goals,” Marshall said in a statement released by the school. “Spending the last two years away from the game has helped me realize my real passion is for helping young men, and I’m excited at having that opportunity again.”

In 2013, Marshall said a divorce and a trip to alcohol rehabilitation contributed to his decision to resign from his UConn job.

Muse leaves Yale staff to become head coach in USHL

Yale associate head coach Dan Muse was hired Thursday as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel.

The former Stonehill player was associate head coach for the Bulldogs for the last two seasons after four seasons as an assistant coach.

He also was an assistant at Sacred Heart and Williams.

Muse, 32, was video coach for the United States team at the World Junior Championship in 2013 and 2014.

Also Thursday, former Colorado College coach Scott Owens was named head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and former North Dakota assistant Cary Eades moved to the head coaching position with the Fargo Force.

Former Norwich coach, athletic director Priestley passes away

Robert Priestley, who coached Norwich for 28 seasons and was the school’s athletic director for 15 years, died Wednesday in Hyannis, Mass. He was 95.

Priestley led the Cadets to a 290-289-12 record from 1951 to 1979 and served as president of the American Hockey Coaches Association and the ECAC Hockey Association.

“Coach Priestley is one of the most respected men in college hockey,” Norwich coach Mike McShane said in a statement released by the school. “He is the foundation of the great Norwich hockey tradition.”

Priestley also coached baseball, track, golf and football at Norwich. He was part of the committee that selected the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Michigan’s Larkin signs with Detroit after rookie season

Michigan’s Dylan Larkin played for the United States in both the World Junior Championship and the World Championships (photo: Melissa Wade).

Michigan’s Dylan Larkin has signed with the Detroit Red Wings, giving up his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility after a 47-point rookie season.

Larkin was a first-round pick of the Red Wings in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, going 15th overall.

He’s scheduled to join Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for the Western Conference finals against Utica starting Sunday.

The Waterford, Mich., native scored 15 goals and was second to Hobey Baker Award winner Jack Eichel in scoring by a freshman.

“My year at Michigan has been the best year of my life, the most fun year of hockey I’ve ever had,” Larkin said in a statement released by the school. “Going to one of the best universities in the world and having fun with my classmates, it will be tough missing out on what they’re going to accomplish. On the other note, I have a chance to live out the dream of my life and I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a great opportunity. I really feel like I’m ready for this challenge.”

Larkin was a second-team All-American and a first-team all-Big Ten selection.

He played for the United States in both the World Junior Championship and the World Championships, earning a bronze medal in the latter earlier this month.

“In Dylan’s year with Michigan, he proved to be one of most talented players in college hockey,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We knew this was a tough decision for Dylan but we also anticipated that this might happen. I hope that Dylan continues on a path to graduate from the university while preparing for a long career in the National Hockey League.”

Next two Ice Breaker Tournaments announced, will be held in Portland, Denver

It’s only May, but the start of the next two college hockey seasons by way of the Ice Breaker Tournament has been announced.

The 2016 Ice Breaker Tournament will be held at Denver’s Magness Arena from Oct. 7-8, 2016.

Air Force, Boston College and Ohio State will join Denver for the tournament.

“We’re very excited to be hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament in partnership with College Hockey Inc. in 2016 and we’re honored that the 20th edition of this fantastic event will be staged at Magness Arena,” said Pioneers coach Jim Montgomery in a news release. “This tournament is one of the top showcase events for college hockey in the country and we’re thrilled that our great fans will again have the opportunity to experience it firsthand. Denver won this tournament the last time it was at Magness and we’re looking forward to kicking off the 2016-17 college hockey season by taking on some great competition.”

Prior to that, the 2015 Ice Breaker Tournament is set for Oct. 9 and 10 at the Cross Insurance Ice Arena in Portland, Maine, and will feature Maine, North Dakota, Michigan State and Lake Superior State.

“The Ice Breaker Tournament signals the beginning of the college hockey season by showcasing some of the Nation’s premier college hockey programs,” said Maine coach Red Gendron in a statement. “The great State of Maine and all her citizens, the city of Portland, and the Cross Insurance Arena will provide the visiting schools and all Maine hockey fans with an extraordinary experience. The Hockey will be fast, furious, and entertaining for all who play and for all who attend.”

‘Dream come true’ for new North Dakota coach Berry

Brad Berry was introduced as North Dakota’s 16th head coach on Monday (photo: Peter Bottini/UNDSports.com).

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Brad Berry spent Monday morning on the phone with North Dakota recruits, this time calling as their future head coach and ensuring them the UND hockey program was headed in the right direction.

UND athletic director Brian Faison announced Monday that assistant coach Berry had been hired as the head coach of the men’s hockey program. He replaced Dave Hakstol, who was named head coach of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers earlier in the day after leading UND to seven Frozen Four appearances in 11 years.

Although Hakstol’s jump to the NHL came as a surprise to many, his void will be filled by the sixth former UND player to take over the position, and a coach who plans on upholding the strong tradition and culture built by those before him.

He made sure to let current and future players know that, too.

Their reactions were positive — everyone Berry talked to that morning was still deeply committed to UND’s program.

“There was no weak moment here,” Berry said. “There was a plan of attack right away we got to it. Everyone we talked to today is all in.”

Berry has become the 16th head coach in UND men’s hockey history.

“I’m very honored and humbled and very excited about the opportunity going forward,” Berry said. “I’m replacing an icon of a coach that had the standards pretty high here, and I want to try to keep those standards there and even raise them. …

“It’s a dream come true. It’s a very special place and there are always opportunities to go different places, but we truly are blessed with what we have here with the rink and the people around us. It’s something real special that you don’t want to deviate from or leave.”

Berry kept himself rooted in North Dakota for significant portions of his career, while also spending time with other programs.

A UND defenseman from 1983 to 1986, Berry returned to his alma mater for two stints as an assistant coach from 2000 to 2006 and since 2012. His combined nine years of serving as an assistant coach for UND accompanies an assistant coaching role with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets from 2010 to 2012 and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose from 2006 to 2008.

Moving through the process

Hakstol turned down the position with the Flyers twice. But the team’s general manager, Ron Hextall, wouldn’t take no for an answer and continued pursuing Hakstol.

The process became serious about two weeks ago, according to Faison, and picked up speed last Thursday and through the weekend. The stability and continuity from the institution and the plans that were set in place allowed for a quick transition.

Faison said he felt what Berry had already contributed to the program and his commitment to the culture set in place was what was best for North Dakota, although a national search wasn’t out of the question.

“Certainly that’s always a possibility,” Faison said. “With our current standpoint with student athletes, that’s a concern. The other thing is since we’re in North Dakota, it’s an open records state. It can have an impact on candidates and whether they get involved in the process or not. And so for us, this just made perfect sense. We’ve got the right people here; let’s get it done.”

Berry’s proven record as a recruiter and coach and his understanding of the core values of the program presented him as the right coach to lead North Dakota toward new heights, Faison said.

“He’s got a passion, you can tell that,” Faison said. “I think the big thing for me is he gets ‘it.’ And ‘it’ is that culture in that locker room that has made this program so incredibly successful over so many years. That’s a lot of things, but they know how to make it happen, and it doesn’t happen everywhere. … He knows that culture. He gets it. He’s part of it. That’s so important.”

Carrying on tradition

There seemed to be a common theme among current and former players’ reactions.

“I was absolutely shocked to hear of Coach Hakstol leaving,” former defenseman Nick Mattson said. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming at all, but Coach Berry is going to do a great job and we’re all really excited for him. He earned it for sure.”

Berry was quick to credit his predecessors, including Hakstol, Dean Blais and Gino Gasparini, each of whom he said was instrumental in shaping the program into the caliber it is today.

“A few words that remind me of those guys and bring substance to our culture are humility, work ethic and respect, which breeds culture,” Berry said. “And we talk about culture every day in our locker room, and those guys laid the blocks for that. We’ve got to make sure we uphold that with the players we bring in here.”

One of Berry’s first orders of business will be establishing his internal staff and finding another assistant coach.

Both Berry and assistant coach Dane Jackson have worked with Hakstol for many years and pride themselves in their transparency and a high level of trust, something they plan to carry with them.

After a whirlwind 48 hours for UND’s newest head coach, he has accepted the new role with hopes of upholding the program’s well-established tradition.

What Berry learned while working with Hakstol was more than just factors of the game.

“He’s got the time of day for just about every person he’ll want to know,” Berry said. “A coach of his magnitude, the respect he has for other people and players — I think one thing I want to pride myself on is communication with the players, and giving them respect and making sure we’re in this together.”

Hakstol leaves North Dakota bench for same role with NHL’s Flyers; Berry named replacement

Dave Hakstol took North Dakota to the Frozen Four seven times in 11 seasons (photo: Melissa Wade).

The Philadelphia Flyers announced Monday morning that North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol has been named the team’s new head coach.

“Dave brings a wealth of head coaching experience and success to the Philadelphia Flyers organization,” said Philadelphia GM Ron Hextall in a statement. “He’s a proven winner and we are pleased to have him become part of the Flyers family.”

“I am extremely excited to be named the Philadelphia Flyers new head coach,” added Hakstol. “Through the process here with Ron [Hextall] and everybody in the Flyers organization, I have gained even more of an understanding of the history and tradition of this organization and I’m very proud to become part of the Philadelphia Flyers today.”

Hakstol also commended UND in a school-issued press release.

“I have spent the better part of my professional life with the University of North Dakota hockey program and every day of it has been a privilege,” said Hakstol. “I’ve had the chance to work with and learn from some of the best people in hockey and I’m lucky to be able to call them my friends. I want to thank the staff, players and fans who have helped make thissuch a special place for our family.”

North Dakota then announced at a Monday news conference that longtime assistant coach Brad Berry is the team’s new bench boss. This was reported earlier Monday by the Grand Forks Herald.

Hakstol spent the last 11 seasons at UND, compiling an overall record of 289-143-43. In 2014-15, he led North Dakota to a 29-10-3 record and a berth in the Frozen Four.

North Dakota made the NCAA tournament in every one of Hakstol’s 11 seasons and reached the Frozen Four seven times in that span, which is the most of any program in the country during that period.

He joined the school’s coaching staff in 2000 as an assistant coach, and took over the head coaching job four years later.

For Berry, who played at UND from 1983 to 1986 and has been an assistant during two stints (2000 through 2006 and again from 2012 through 2015), being named to replace Hakstol is a huge undertaking.

“I’m very humbled and honored to be the next head coach at the University of North Dakota,” said Berry in a statement. “Men like Dave Hakstol, Dean Blais and Gino Gasparini have put that foundation in place for the program to be as successful as it has been. Myself, as well as Coach [Dane] Jackson and the rest of our staff, plan on carrying that torch to keep the program at the highest level.”

“We are excited to have Brad take leadership of the UND men’s hockey program,” added UND director of athletics Brian Faison in a news release. “He is an effective recruiter, has an outstanding reputation as a teacher of the game, and brings a tremendous energy and passion to the position. His core values and his understanding of the unique culture that has made UND hockey so successful are the traits that make him the right coach to carry the program forward.”


Hobey Hat Trick finalist McIntyre will not return for senior year with North Dakota

Zane McIntyre won the Mike Richter Award in 2015 and will soon start negotiations with the Boston Bruins (photo: Rachel Lewis).

North Dakota goaltender Zane McIntyre will turn pro after three seasons, his family advisor confirmed to the Grand Forks Herald on Tuesday.

McIntyre, a Boston Bruins draft pick and 2015 All-American, will soon start negotiations with the NHL club, according to the Herald.

His departure means UND will start next season with sophomore Cam Johnson, incoming freshman Matej Tomek and junior Matt Hrynkiw all battling for playing time in net.

McIntyre, who played more minutes than any goalie in the nation last season, won the Mike Richter Award and was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist. He posted a 29-10-3 record, 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage with one shutout, leading UND to the NCAA Frozen Four for a second consecutive season. McIntyre was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional in Fargo.

Over the weekend, Boston’s backup goalie, Niklas Svedberg, left the team and signed to play next season in Russia. McIntyre and Malcolm Subban are expected to compete for that open spot and will likely be the goaltenders for the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League next year.

In other North Dakota news, the Herald also reported that Drake Caggiula will return for his senior season in Grand Forks.

Former Skidmore coach Sinclair tapped to succeed Beaney at Middlebury

Neil Sinclair is just the fourth Middlebury head coach in nearly 70 years (photo: Teddy Anderson).

Neil Sinclair has been named the head coach of the Middlebury men’s hockey program, taking over for the recently-retired Bill Beaney.

Sinclair, a 1993 Middlebury graduate, is just the fourth men’s hockey coach at Middlebury since 1946. He comes to Middlebury from Skidmore, where he has served in the same role for the past 10 seasons. The former Panther All-American was Middlebury’s interim head coach in 2002-03 after serving three seasons as an assistant coach under Beaney.

“We are thrilled to have Neil Sinclair as the next head men’s ice hockey coach at Middlebury College,” said Middlebury director of athletics Erin Quinn in a statement. “Neil’s experiences both as a player and coach at Middlebury, along with his growth as a coach at Skidmore, have prepared him well to return to Middlebury. The student-athletes will benefit from his coaching expertise and leadership on the ice, in the classroom, and in the community.”

“I am honored for this opportunity to work at Middlebury College and coach the men’s ice hockey program,” added Sinclair. “As a hockey alumnus, I know the history of the program and have a deep respect for the legacybuilt by Duke Nelson, Wendy Forbes, and Bill Beaney. I couldn’t be happier about returning to the athletic department family as well as the Middlebury community.

“I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead – the hockey tradition at Middlebury is second-to-none. I’m excited to work with the Middlebury student-athletes to write the next chapter in Middlebury hockey history.”

Sinclair led Skidmore to the ECAC semifinals three times and was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2006-07 when he was also a finalist for the Edward Jeremiah Award as the National Coach of the Year.

While at Skidmore, Sinclair obtained his Master of Arts degree in 2011. As part of his master’s work, Sinclair published a piece in The International Journal of Sports and Society titled “Building a Collegiate Athletic Leadership Model for NCAA Teams,” which he wrote with Tim Harper and Jeff Segrave in 2014.

As a player at Middlebury, the defenseman was a first-team All-American and ECAC selection in 1993. He began his coaching career at Middlebury Union High School, leading the team to the 1996 State Championship.

Sinclair was also head coach at Williams for two seasons prior to arriving at Skidmore.

Boston University’s O’Connor picks Ottawa from four free-agent offers

Matt O’Connor was 25-4-4 in his final season at Boston University (photo: Melissa Wade).

After weighing free-agent offers, Boston University junior goaltender Matt O’Connor decided to sign with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

O’Connor and the Senators agreed to a two-year contract on Saturday; the goaltender also had offers from the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

“It was an extremely difficult decision and I was pretty analytical in making it,” O’Connor said on a conference call with reporters on Saturday. “I did some serious deliberations and I think that’s why it kind of dragged out a little bit longer than one would it expect. It’s a big time in my life to decide on the organization.”

O’Connor backstopped Boston University to the national championship game in 2015, losing to Providence on a fluke third-period goal.

He was 25-4-4 in his junior season with a 2.18 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

O’Connor said he expects to have to work his way up through the Senators organization’s depth in goal.

“As a goalie, you need time to develop in the pro game so I would definitely picture myself in Binghamton,” he said, referring to Ottawa’s AHL affiliate. “I’m not one to come in to an organization and demand games or expect promises because the bottom line is it’s about stopping the puck. I think I can develop a lot in the American League and that’s a big opportunity for me. As a goalie, you want to go when you’re ready and I’ve got a two-year window to develop into the best goalie I can be.”

Freshman Connor LaCouvee started six games in 2014-15 for the Terriers and is the only goalie remaining on the roster.

‘Overwhelming majority’ of coaches don’t want change for NCAA regional system

The 2015 West Regional drew packed crowds to Fargo, N.D. (photo: Jim Rosvold).

Poor attendance at some NCAA regional sites has led to some talk that the format should be changed, but feedback from the American Hockey Coaches Association meeting last week indicated that most coaches aren’t in favor of such a move.

“The voice from the coaches was that the overwhelming majority wanted to keep it as it is,” said Army West Point coach Brian Riley, president of the AHCA.

Riley also is a member of the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey committee, and he said that body will meet in June and discuss what the coaches said last week in Naples, Fla.

In March, North Dakota athletic director Brian Faison, also an NCAA committee member, signaled that he would push for a return to campus sites for NCAA tournament games.

Since 1992, NCAA tournament games leading up to the Frozen Four have taken place at predetermined regional sites, but attendance has suffered in recent years as those venues have almost exclusively been off campus.

Don’t expect any change in the tournament selection process, either.

“I think from a PairWise standpoint there didn’t seem to be a feeling that anything needed to be changed,” Riley said.

Several minor issues like NCAA practice and hotel times were addressed, but no major changes to the tournament appeared imminent.

However, there is a movement to address adding practices before the start of the season. The official start date for the 2015-16 season is Oct. 3, and some teams begin official games on that day while others play exhibitions or hold intrasquad scrimmages, Riley said.

“There’s a group that think how we do it now, we’re forced to get on the ice,” Riley said. “People want to get their games in. A lot of nonconference games people can’t afford to give up on the first weekend. By adding practice time, that would allow teams to practice and be prepared for that first weekend.”

The downside to adding practices before the start of the season is that many junior leagues hold showcases during September, meaning coaches would have to decide whether to miss out on recruiting or practice.

The size of coaching staffs also was a point of discussion. The NCAA allows schools to have three full-time paid coaches on staff. Riley said there was talk to expand that.

One idea was to make the director of hockey operations, which most teams have on their staff, an additional coach.

“It would give an opportunity for young coaches to get involved in the profession,” Riley said.

Other issues discussed included the recruiting verbal agreement, often known as the “gentlemen’s agreement,” that coaches stop recruiting a player once he’s given a verbal commitment.

“All coaches understand that some schools don’t agree with it and aren’t going to adhere to it,” Riley said. “For the most part, the majority of coaches want to keep the gentlemen’s agreement.”

While it wasn’t a rule-change year — the NCAA rule book can only be amended every other year — there appears to be momentum for addressing goalie interference.

Many in the sport feel that goalies are overprotected and goals that should count are being taken away because of the current rules. Riley said video of several disallowed goals under the current rules were shown, and virtually everyone in attendance thought they should count.

“I’m all for protecting the goalies inside the crease but we’re also trying to find a way to score more goals,” he said. “We’ve kind of put ourselves in a tough spot. You might see some changes next year.”

Last year’s meeting was where Arizona State’s move from a club team to Division I began to take hold. The Sun Devils announced in November that the school will play a mostly Division I schedule this fall as it transitions to full varsity status.

While there’s no immediate plans for more schools to add Division I hockey, expect the sport to continue to grow.

Before last week’s convention, Mike Snee, executive director of College Hockey Inc., said the idea of schools on the West Coast adding hockey has been growing, with many people around the sport expecting more schools to follow Arizona State’s move to Division I.

Former St. John’s men’s coach, 1980 Olympian Harrington tapped to lead Minnesota State women’s team

John Harrington has been named head coach of the Minnesota State women’s hockey program.

“We are thrilled to attract someone of John’s caliber to our program,” said Minnesota State director of athletics Kevin Buisman in a news release. “The depth of playing and coaching experience that he brings will be a major asset. John’s name is well-recognized throughout the hockey community, providing instant credibility and opening new doors for us in the recruitment process. Coach Harrington’s leadership marks the start of an exciting new era for Maverick women’s hockey.”

Harrington was formerly the men’s hockey coach at St. John’s from 1993 to 2008 and led the Johnnies to a 241-142-31 record with four MIAC playoff and five regular-season titles, along with five NCAA tournament appearances.

Harrington, who has spent the last four years serving as an amateur scout for the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche, was the head coach of Asiago in the Italian National League from 2009 t0 2011 and head coach for Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss National League in 2008. The Virginia, Minn., native also served a stint as associate head coach with the men’s program at St. Cloud State from 1990 to 1993 and as an assistant coach with Denver from 1984 to 1990.

A 1979 Minnesota-Duluth grad where he played four seasons with the men’s hockey program, Harrington was a member of the United States men’s hockey team that captured the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I think it is exciting for Minnesota State and the Maverick women’s hockey program,” added Wisconsin women’s coach Mark Johnson, also a teammate of Harrington on the 1980 Olympic team, in a statement. “John has a real deep background in the coaching world, whether it is at the Division I level or the Division III level. He understands college hockey and he’s got a history with the WCHA. Certainly he has a history at the Division III level with what it takes to be successful. It bodes well for our league to bring in an experienced, veteran coach.”

“While I have never had the privilege to work directly with John, I am certainly familiar with his strong reputation across the sport,” said Bethel women’s coach Natalie Darwitz in another statement. “Based on what others have related about their personal experiences with John, I believe this is an excellent hire for Minnesota State and that it will be well supported in the hockey community. I am familiar enough to know that John has a high character family and that integrity will be part of the culture he brings as a head coach. As a female hockey player, I always wanted to be coached by someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and in that context, John brings great credibility. The Maverick women’s hockey program is craving success, and I think Coach Harrington can help lead them in that direction.”

A press conference will be scheduled later this month to formally introduce Harrington.

Denver, Colorado College taking it outdoors to Coors Field in 2016

Denver and Colorado College will play outdoors at Coors Field on Feb. 20, 2016 in a game that will be dubbed “The Battle on Blake.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be announcing this game, which we are very pleased to do in partnership with our longtime rivals Colorado College as well as the Colorado Rockies and NCHC,” DU athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes said in a news release. “The Denver hockey program has a proud tradition and rich history … and this game will further add to the Pioneers’ legacy. This game at Coors Field will also add a new dimension to our storied rivalry with the Tigers, and we can’t wait to pack the park with college hockey fans in February.”

The DU-CC rivalry dates back to 1950, with the Pioneers having gone 165-116-17 in 298 all-time meetings with the Tigers. Denver swept Colorado College in the teams’ four-game season series this past season to reclaim the Gold Pan.

“We are thrilled to be taking our rivalry with the University of Denver outside in 2016,” CC athletic director Ken Ralph said in a statement. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players and we are grateful to the Colorado Rockies, the Coors Field staff and the University of Denver for making this a reality for our team. We are looking forward to a large crowd in a beautiful setting as our teams display that college hockey is indeed thriving in the state of Colorado.”

Located in Denver’s historic ‘LoDo’ district, Coors Field has served as the Rockies’ home since 1995, during which time it has hosted a Major League Baseball All-Star Game (1998) as well as the World Series (2007). February’s DU-CC showdown will mark the first time a sport other than baseball will be played at the stadium competitively.

This will mark the third straight year in which at least one team from the NCHC has competed in an outdoor game. Miami skated in the Hockey City Classic at Chicago’s Soldier Field last season and Western Michigan, who faced Miami in Chicago, were also part of the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational, staged at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

“This event will provide an incredible atmosphere and life-enriching experience for student-athletes in Coors Field next February when Denver and Colorado College take the Gold Pan rivalry back to its roots while playing outside,” added NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton.

More information on the game, including ticketing information, will be announced at a later date.

Northland to add women’s program for 2016-17 season

Northland announced Monday that it will add women’s hockey for the 2016-2017 season.

The school, which has a men’s team playing in the NCHA, has already begun a search for a coach.

“The driving force behind the decision is the continued growth of hockey and Northland’s location, central in a region renowned for highly competitive play,” said men’s coach Seamus Gregory in a statement. “We know that there are young women who want to play and we’d like to make it available.”

In the Northland region alone, 25-30 girls under the age of eight play hockey for Ashland Youth Hockey and Gregory, who along with his players, volunteers with the program.

“Having both men’s and women’s NCAA Division III ice hockey programs will allow the college to offer an even more comprehensive and equitable intercollegiate athletic program,” added Northland president Michael A. Miller. “They also increase our ability to serve the needs of excellent studentathletes who want to play here.”

Northland is currently working with the Bay Area Civic Center and the City of Ashland on plans to add a women’s locker room at the Civic Center.

“Growing any sport is exciting and this is one of the larger growing sports – along with lacrosse – and it’s exploding in the Midwest and in the NCAA,” Gregory said.

Penn State dismisses freshman Conway for breaking team rules

Penn State has dismissed freshman forward Scott Conway for violating unspecified team rules.

According to a school statement, PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky and the program consider the matter concluded and will have no further comment.

During the 2014-15 season, Conway was the Nittany Lions’ top freshman scorer with 10 goals and 26 points in 34 games.

Vermont extends Sneddon through 2017-18 season

Vermont has signed men’s coach Kevin Sneddon to a contract extension through the 2017-18 season.

“We look forward with much optimism and excitement knowing that our men’s hockey program will continue in the very capable hands of Kevin and his staff,” said associate vice president and director of athletics Dr. Robert Corran in a statement. “He, and they, have done a remarkable job in building UVM hockey into a true championship contender in the toughest conference in the country, and I look forward to celebrating much more success with them in the years ahead.”

Sneddon, who has been at the helm of the men’s hockey program since 2003, has guided Vermont to back-to-back 20-win campaigns for just the third time in its Division I era. He has led the Catamounts to three NCAA tournament berths in the last seven seasons, including the program’s second-ever NCAA Frozen Four berth in 2009.

“I am very honored to receive this contract extension and I look forward to leading our program into the future,” added Sneddon. “I would like to thank President Sullivan and Bob Corran for their support and this opportunity to continue our work at a great university with such a storied hockey program.”

NCAA tournament provides talking points for annual coaches’ convention

Usage of video replay to determine whether a player should be ejected from a game could be expanded (photo: Jim Rosvold).

For the third straight season, the NCAA tournament ended with a first-time champion in 2015. Fourth-seeded Providence finished a late-season run with two third-period goals to beat Boston University in the national championship on April 11.

That game featured 13 NHL draft picks, not to mention the likely No. 2 selection in this year’s draft.

“There’s an ever-increasing quality of talent in NCAA hockey,” said Mike Snee, executive director of College Hockey Inc. “More players than ever in the NHL have a college hockey background and it’s going to become more and more each year.”

The NCAA tournament not only showcased this increased talent but also some potential talking points for the annual American Hockey Coaches Association convention in Naples, Fla. The convention starts on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

Several of those points — universal officials and expanded use of video replay for major penalties — stemmed from one play in Providence’s win over Denver in the East Regional final.

Pioneers defenseman Joey LaLeggia was called for a five-minute major and disqualification for contact to the head at 10:37 in the third period. The Friars scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play.

In the postgame news conference, Denver coach Jim Montgomery eloquently expressed his desire for a national officiating crew to help establish universal standards for calls.

However, Hockey East commissioner and AHCA executive director Joe Bertagna said he is in favor of keeping the current officiating setup, saying a national pool of officials wouldn’t be practical.

Bertagna said it wasn’t just a matter of assigning officials to work games nationwide; someone has to mentor and teach them as well.

“Each supervisor has his own idea. Even within the same book there’s some room for interpretation,” Bertagna said. “Within the league some guys call it higher than others — that’s just human nature.”

He also mentioned the cost associated with flying officials around the country, pointing to the logistics involved when Hockey East added Notre Dame two seasons ago.

“With Notre Dame, it was difficult with one school but to try to coordinate assigning to 60 schools, I don’t think it makes sense,” Bertagna said.

As for replay, NCAA tournament officials may use video replay during a game to review penalties that would result in the removal of a player to ensure proper enforcement. This usage could be expanded, according to Bertagna.

Regional sites on campus and potential PairWise Rankings tweaks will also be discussed, according to Clarkson coach Casey Jones, who is heading the Division I coaches’ open meeting on Wednesday.

“The over simplification is that schools that are strong programs like that if you finish as the top draw you can bring it back to campus and almost guarantee a sellout,” Bertagna said. “For smaller programs, it’s harder to upset, and upsets make for exciting tournaments.”

The PairWise Rankings formula has undergone occasional tweaks in recent years.

“There was a big cliff where teams were moving; that’s concerning, I think,” Jones said, referring to the fluctuation in the rankings. The coaches can discuss adjustments to the PairWise and then present it to the NCAA.

Goalie contact to be examined

The NCAA rule book gets updated every other year, and this is an off year so no new rules can be proposed. However, the interpretation of the rules can be tweaked, according to Bertagna.

One of those tweaks could involve looking at the measures put in place to protect goalies.

“Are the safeguards in place now taking away good goals on a violation that wasn’t affecting the play?” said Bertagna, a former Harvard goalie. “I’m part of a group that feels we’ve gone too far for these protections. How do we address this and not go the other way and encourage guys to bump goalies?”

Westward expansion

One item on this year’s agenda is a presentation on fundraising and alumni relations by Arizona State coach Greg Powers and the Buffalo Sabres’ Joe Battista, who helped facilitate the fundraising to move Penn State to the Division I level.

Arizona State announced it was starting a Division I program last November, a process that gained momentum at last year’s meeting, according to Snee.

The first real meeting about that move took place in Naples last year, with Snee, Powers, Battista and College Hockey Inc. deputy executive director Nate Ewell discussing the Sun Devils’ move to Division I.

That move came quicker than expected, as Snee said they would have taken Arizona State announcing it would move to Division I in eight years.

Despite the accelerated time table, don’t expect any new programs to come out of this year’s meetings. The potential for expansion is there, however, pointing to the expanded television coverage of college hockey, including a deal with TSN in Canada.

Before Arizona State’s move, college hockey on the West Coast seemed to many like a dream that would never happen, Snee said.

“Now most people think it’s a dream that not only could happen, but will happen,” he said.

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