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First NCHC Rudolph Award winner Philo takes charge on, off the ice

John Philo has been named the inaugural recipient of the NCHC’s Mark Rudolph Officiating Achievement Award for the 2013-14 season.

Philo, who has served 14 seasons as an NCAA official, was presented with the award at the NCHC’s annual linesman camp in the Detroit area on Sept. 20. At the presentation, Philo received a plaque to recognize his achievement and was also presented with a colored pencil art rendering of himself, which was completed by Denver artist Michelle McAdams.

An assistant principal at Grandville (Mich.) High School, Philo began his officiating career working nine seasons as a linesman in the CCHA and was later selected to work the NCAA Frozen Four in both 2005 and 2007. He then transitioned to a referee position where he completed four seasons on the ice and then joined the NCHC as a linesman for the 2013-14 season, working the regular season and playoffs.

In January 2014, the principal at Grandville High School was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and Philo was appointed acting principal. Philo and a second assistant principal divided up the responsibilities and accepted the workload of supporting a school with 1,800 students. While Philo’s responsibilities at the school increased, he went back to working as a linesman.

During Philo’s time as acting principal, Grandville High tragically lost three students, including senior Ryan Fischer, also the captain of the varsity hockey team, who died unexpectedly due to heart complications in early March. Fischer was a three-sport athlete who was headed to West Point.

“The greatest challenge during this time was keeping my emotions in check in order to make the best decisions possible – keeping our students, staff and community as the focus of each of those decisions was very difficult,” Philo said in a news release. “Organization and humility were the keys in keeping my head above water.”

NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton also expressed his gratitude towards Philo.

“I have seen John Philo work NCAA hockey games for many years [and] his demeanor, personality and knowledge as an official is a great representation for what we strive for in the NCHC,” Fenton said in a statement. “After understanding his personal story from this past year and knowing the commitment he gave to our conference, I cannot think of a better person to win the inaugural [Rudolph] award.”

Colgate the top pick in ECAC Hockey preseason coaches’ poll, media poll

Colgate earned seven first-place votes to sit No. 1 in the ECAC Hockey preseason coaches’ poll released on Tuesday.

The Raiders, who last saw themselves at the top of the poll to start the 2006-07 season, also earned 18 first-place votes in the media poll conducted by Ken Schott of the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

Defending national champion Union sits second and took home four first-place votes, while Cornell garnered the other top-spot nod and finished third in the coaches’ poll.

ECAC Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Team (First-place votes)
Total Points
1. Colgate (7)117
2. Union (4)103
3. Cornell (1)90
4. Yale87
5. Quinnipiac82
6. Dartmouth67
7. Brown61
8. Clarkson58
9. Harvard52
10. Rensselaer40
11. St. Lawrence24
12. Princeton11

ECAC Hockey Preseason Media Poll

Team (First-place votes)
Total Points
1. Colgate (18)336
2. Union (11)322
3. Quinnipiac (1)289
4. Cornell263
5. Yale211
6. Dartmouth190
7. Brown162
8. Clarkson161
9. Rensselaer141
10. Harvard129
11. St. Lawrence101
12. Princeton32

Additionally, the league’s coaches chose a preseason ECAC Hockey All-League Team.

Player
Position
Class
School
Daniel CiampiniFSr.Union
Matthew PecaFSr.Quinnipiac
Jimmy VeseyFJr.Harvard
Gavin BayreutherDSo.St. Lawrence
Joakim RyanDSr.Cornell
Colin StevensGSr.Union

Providence tabbed to finish first in Hockey East by coaches, media alike

Providence was picked to finish first in the Hockey East standings in separate coaches’ and media polls released this week.

The Friars earned seven first-place votes in the coaches’ poll and 26 first-place nods in the Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association poll.

Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Team (First-place votes)
Total Points
1. Providence (7)127
2. Boston College (3)120
3. Notre Dame94
4. Northeastern (1)90
5. New Hampshire86
6. Boston University83
7. Massachusetts-Lowell (1)79
8. Vermont75
9. Maine74
10. Merrimack37
11. Massachusetts33
12. Connecticut26

Hockey East Preseason Media Poll

Team (First-place votes)
Total Points
1. Providence (26)414
2. Boston College (8)399
3. Boston University (2)309
4. Northeastern305
5. Massachusetts-Lowell267
6. Maine256
7. (tie) Notre Dame231
7. (tie) Vermont231
9. New Hampshire171
10. Merrimack97
11. Massachusetts80
12. Connecticut48

Additionally, the media named a preseason All-Hockey East Team.

Player
Position
Class
School
Ross MauermannFSr.Providence
Kevin RoyFJr.Northeastern
Devin ShoreFJr.Maine
Ben HuttonDJr.Maine
Michael MathesonDJr.Boston College
Jon GilliesGJr.Providence

WCHA women’s coaches make Minnesota league favorite in preseason poll

Minnesota has been chosen to finish atop the WCHA women’s standings with six first-place votes in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll.

The Gophers have advanced to the NCAA championship game the past three seasons, winning twice.

Wisconsin, which finished second in the poll, garnered the other two first-place votes from the league’s head coaches.

Team (First-place votes)
Total Points
1. Minnesota (6)48
2. Wisconsin (2)44
3. Minnesota-Duluth34
4. North Dakota33
5. Ohio State26
6. Minnesota State17
7. Bemidji State13
8. St. Cloud State9

In addition, Minnesota junior Hannah Brandt was a unanimous choice for preseason player of the year, while Wisconsin forward Annie Pankowski earned six votes for preseason rookie of the year, with Badgers’ forward Baylee Wellhausen and Minnesota forward Cara Piazza each getting a vote.

Minnesota starts preseason ranked No. 1 in Division I women’s poll

With 12 first-place votes, Minnesota begins the 2014-15 preseason as the top-ranked team in the USCHO.com Division I Women’s Poll.

Wisconsin comes in second, while Boston College sits third.

Harvard earned a first-place vote and is fourth, Cornell is fifth, while Boston University took home a first-place vote and is sixth in this week’s rankings.

Last year’s national champion, Clarkson, is seventh and garnered the other first-place nod.

Rounding out the top 10 is North Dakota at No. 8, Mercyhurst at No. 9 and Minnesota-Duluth and Quinnipiac tying for the tenth spot.

The USCHO.com Division I Women’s Poll is compiled weekly and consists of 15 voters, including 14 coaches of Division I programs and one women’s hockey writer.

Robert Morris, Mercyhurst sit atop preseason CHA coaches’ poll

Robert Morris and Mercyhurst each collected 21 points to end up tied at the top of the preseason CHA coaches’ poll released Thursday.

The Colonials earned three first-place votes, while Lakers garnered one first-place vote.

Team (First-place votes)
Total points
1. (tie) Robert Morris (3)21
1. (tie) Mercyhurst (1)21
3. RIT (2)20
4. Syracuse13
5. Penn State8
6. Lindenwood7

Former Elmira goalie Marshall joins RIT women’s coaching staff

Rochester Institute of Technology announced on Wednesday that former NCAA goaltending standout Lisa Marshall will join the RIT women’s hockey staff as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season.

Marshall began her collegiate career at Wayne State before transferring to Elmira for her sophomore season. At Elmira, Marshall went 32-8-1 with a 1.22 GAA with a .947 save percentage and 23 shutouts in three seasons, helping lead the Soaring Eagles to the 2013 Division III national championship.

“We are excited to bring Lisa to RIT,” said RIT head coach Scott McDonald in a statement. “She was a very good collegiate goaltender, who will work closely with our goaltenders, and also assist in all aspects of the program. Lisa was able to play her collegiate career under three coaches and be part of a national championship team, which made her a strong candidate. She brings youth and a contagious energy to our staff and players and will be a strong assistant coach.”

“This is an opportunity I am really excited for, working with great coaches in Scott [McDonald] and [assistant coach] Matt (Woodard),” added Marshall. “It is great to be able to stay in the game in a new role.”

Marshall received her bachelor’s degree in English literature with an associate’s degree in business administration from Elmira in 2014. She was a two-year member of Elmira’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and also served as a student worker in the athletics and sports medicine offices.

Western Connecticut State adding men’s hockey for ’15-16, will join MASCAC

Western Connecticut State University has added a Division III men’s hockey program that will play a full schedule as an affiliate member of the MASCAC during the 2015-16 season.

“The MASCAC is excited to welcome Western Connecticut State University as a men’s ice hockey affiliate,” said MASCAC commissioner Angela Baumann said in a statement. “MASCAC hockey has proven to be a quality league with outstanding competition and exciting games. We are looking forward to welcoming the Colonial’s student-athletes in 2015-2016.”

The Colonials will play their home games at the Danbury Arena, approximately one half mile from the school’s Midtown campus. The arena currently houses the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League and was home of the WCSU men’s club team, which had been a member of the ACHA since 1994.

“This is an exciting move for Colonial athletics,” added WCSU athletic director Ed Farrington. “Western ice hockey has enjoyed many years of success as a club sport and we intend on building a competitive and respected program as we move into the intercollegiate ranks. We are thrilled to continue a good relationship with the MASCAC that began with affiliations in men’s and women’s tennis and football.”

ECAC announces preseason all-conference women’s team, coaches’ poll

Harvard has been selected as the top team in the ECAC women’s coaches’ poll released Monday.

With nine first-place votes, this marks the first time since 2008 the Crimson has earned the top spot in the poll.

Team (First-place votes)
Total points
1. Harvard (9)119
2. Cornell (1)108
3. Clarkson (2)101
4. Quinnipiac95
5. St. Lawrence80
6. Yale68
7. Princeton57
8. Colgate49
9. Dartmouth45
10. Rensselaer38
11. Union19
12. Brown13

In addition, the league also announced its preseason all-conference team.

Player's Name
Position
Team
Brianne JennerFCornell
Jillian SaulnierFCornell
Phoebe StaenzFYale
Erin AmbroseDClarkson
Michelle PicardDHarvard
Emerance MaschmeyerGHarvard

Shyiak hired as Western Michigan associate head coach

Western Michigan announced on Monday the hiring of Dave Shyiak as the Broncos’ new associate head coach.

Shyiak spent the 2013-14 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization where he was an amateur scout. Prior to that, he spent eight seasons as head coach at Alaska-Anchorage and was also an assistant and associate head coach at his alma mater, Northern Michigan, where as a player, he helped win the 1991 national championship.

“We are excited to have Dave Shyiak join our coaching staff,” said WMU head coach Andy Murray in a statement. “As with Ben Barr, I have had a long relationship with Dave. He is a quality person that brings a competitive, pit bull mentality. His coaching experience in college hockey and his NHL scouting experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs will only enhance our ability to recruit and develop players for pro hockey. He has an expertise in the defensive side of the game that will complement Ben’s offensive emphasis.”

“This was too good of an opportunity to turn down, the opportunity to work with Coach Murray and his staff and the chance to grow as a coach with a program that has continued to improve on the ice and in the classroom,” added Shyiak. “This staff and the administration has really elevated the program and it is exciting to help continue that work.”

Shyiak left UAA with 80 career wins, including 16 during the 2010-11 season in which the Seawolves made it to the quarterfinals of the WCHA tournament.

Preseason clinic gets officials up to speed, shows they’re human

2014022821 10 0768 Preseason clinic gets officials up to speed, shows theyre human

Big Ten referee Marco Hunt makes a call during a Feb. 28, 2014, game in Minneapolis (photo: Jim Rosvold).

The two big screens at the front of the conference room show the center-ice TV angle of a 100-foot stretch pass that ends with a jarring, illegal hit in the neutral zone.

Steve Piotrowski asks those assembled to make the call by pressing a button on their handheld polling devices: ‘A’ for major penalty, ‘B’ for a major and game misconduct or ‘C’ for a major and game disqualification.

No one chooses the last, most severe option — a DQ carries with it an automatic one-game suspension.

Sixteen votes are cast to assess only a five-minute major penalty; the 22 others choose to eject the offending player from the game with a game misconduct. By no stretch of the imagination is there a consensus, which tells you that reasonable people can disagree on the same subject.

It also tells you that on-ice officials can disagree on what the call should be on a play, a clear indication of the human factor involved in the role.

These are Big Ten referees and linesmen assembled in the room for their preseason clinic, a day-long primer on rule changes and a refresher on procedures.

And it’s more than one play on which they do not all hold the same opinion.

Piotrowski, the Big Ten coordinator of ice hockey officials, puts another clip on the screens and asks a question on the severity of the penalty that should be assessed. Again, the split is 22-16. Another play gets a 20-18 divide and yet another goes 21-17.

The takeaway: Different officials will see the same play differently.

“Now enter into the dynamic having to make a split-second decision with one look at real-time speed,” Piotrowski says. “Based upon where you’re positioned and where you see that and without looking at it again, you could come out of that with, ‘Boy, I thought that guy was hit in the head but in reality it was shoulder to shoulder.’ Or, ‘I thought that was a disqualification but in reality it should have been only a game misconduct.’”

The purpose of the clinic, Piotrowski says, is to get the officials confident in their rules knowledge and ready to take the ice in October under some significant changes in the way the game is officiated.

There are subtle changes to faceoff locations and procedures that officials must have down cold before opening night. There are the yearly points of emphasis to keep in mind.

2014-15 points of emphasis

The NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey rules committee each year issues a set of items for extra attention in the coming season. Here are the three for 2014-15:

Diving and Embellishment: Coaches, conference commissioners, coordinators of officials and on-ice officials must work collaboratively to rid the game of both diving to draw a penalty and embellishing actions to deceive game officials. The committee encourages conferences to develop ways to curb this type of behavior and if appropriate use supplemental discipline. Game officials continue to be encouraged to communicate as a crew and share information when diving or embellishment is in question.

Delaying Tactics: The committee encourages stringent use of the delay of game rules in place, especially during situations where a team may not change its players by rule (e.g., icing). In the rules survey, coaches and administrators overwhelmingly supported a crackdown on these actions. Players on the ice when play is stopped for any violation which does not permit a change of players, (e.g., icing) are required to go immediately to the faceoff location. Any player skating to the bench or otherwise delaying will receive a warning for the first offense and a bench minor penalty on the second and subsequent offense.

Goalkeeper Interference: Clarifying incidental contact between attacking players and the goalkeeper is a key initiative of the committee in this cycle. The goalkeeper must be allowed to play the position, but attacking players also must be given rights to legally obtained space. Through video and directives, the committee will provide more clarity on this issue. Essentially, the crease is the goalkeeper’s area and any contact that prevents the goalkeeper from playing the position must not be allowed. Incidental contact outside of the goal crease is allowed and attacking players have rights to the space outside the goal crease. Finally, deliberate contact with the goalkeeper (regardless of where it occurs) that prevents playing the position should result in a disallowed goal, penalty or both.

There are new protocols for video replay usage for the four-person crew to consider. And there are refreshers needed on elements like the four criteria needed for a penalty shot to be awarded.

They cover it all on one September Saturday at the sparkling Big Ten headquarters outside of Chicago.

They cover it because Piotrowski — as he makes clear multiple times during the day — will not tolerate a lack of rule knowledge.

“Your job is to make sure you know the rules like the back of your hand,” he tells the officials. “I can defend you to the end of the world on your judgment. But if you miss a rule, I have no choice but to tell that coach [you] screwed up.”

That comes up after a clearly unsatisfactory percentage of correct answers to a question on an interactive rules test using the polling devices.

In a follow-up interview, Piotrowski says exemplary rule knowledge is a “difference-maker” in how he views officials.

“Here’s a group of guys that their primary role and responsibility is to officiate a hockey game per the current rules that are in place. And if you don’t understand those rules or you misinterpret those, I can’t make excuses for guys,” says Piotrowski, who’s also the secretary-rules editor of the NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey rules committee. “Because our guys are accountable just like the players are accountable and the coaches are accountable.”

The first part of accountability is showing up.

For this clinic, the independent contractors that are hired by the Big Ten to officiate hockey games pay for their own travel.

It has a social component — officials think of themselves as being all part of the same team, just the one that no one ever cheers for.

But it’s business, and the business at hand is to get themselves ready for the upcoming season.

“You really start to get excited again,” says Scott Bokal, a veteran referee from St. Louis who’s joining the Big Ten corps this season. “I think we all look forward to this. When you start to see the videos and knock the rust off of your brain, so to speak, you start to get excited.”

Being forced to think about close calls and quick decisions a month before the season starts is a good way to start getting in game mode, lineman Steve Waters says.

Officials would do all that kind of preparation on their own if they had to, he says, out of dedication to their craft.

“But everybody getting together and getting a chance to talk about what’s going on, and then building that rapport with each other before the season starts, it really helps bring it all together so that come October we’re ready to go,” says Waters, who also works the lines for Atlantic Hockey games and is based in Pittsburgh.

2013010520 06 1618 Preseason clinic gets officials up to speed, shows theyre human

Referee Scott Bokal gives an explanation in a Jan. 5, 2013, game in Mankato, Minn. (photo: Jim Rosvold)

No one but officials truly knows the thanklessness of officiating, but that shared experience builds a bond.

“When you’re out there working a game, you’ve got 10,000 people that absolutely hate you,” Waters says. “And you guys are all a team out there. You guys are all brothers. I have your back and you have my back.”

Early in the day, the officials talk in depth about how much to have each other’s back.

The subject is diving and embellishment, one of this season’s points of emphasis.

It’s no secret that referees take offense to attempts to deceive them with a dramatic fall. In addressing the group, Piotrowski calls it “a disgrace to the game” that needs to be eliminated through a collective effort of officials, coaches and players.

Piotrowski emphasizes that he’s not directing the officials to call more diving and embellishment penalties, only to feel empowered to call them when they present themselves.

He adds that if a player shows a pattern of exaggeration, he’ll be identified as a repeat offender so officials can take that knowledge into the game.

Referee Brian Hill asks Piotrowski if it should be a more frequent practice to get the crew together in situations when one referee calls a penalty but others see embellishment on the play.

“I think that’s great,” Piotrowski responds. “That has to continue.”

As evidence of the kind of detail those in the officiating business put into their knowledge of the rule book, the group spends about 10 minutes on a rule change that might be considered minor.

Starting this season, when a team is called for a hand pass or playing the puck with a high stick, the faceoff comes back one zone closer to its goal from where the infraction was committed. In the past, the faceoff took place in the offending team’s defensive zone, which some coaches thought was too punitive, Piotrowski says.

Referee Marco Hunt asks how that change will be received by coaches if it ends up benefiting the violator. An example is floated: A penalty killer launches the puck down ice from deep in his zone and a member of the power-play unit deflects it inside the blue line with a high stick, but the puck travels all the way down ice before it’s played by the offending team and the whistle blows.

Instead of the faceoff coming back into the power-play unit’s defensive zone, under the new rule it’ll take place in the neutral zone just outside of its attacking zone.

Piotrowski confirms that may happen and reinforces a thought he shared early in the presentation: There will have to be some adjustments in the way the officials think.

In the end, that’s one of the most essential parts of the day. College hockey changes its rule book only once every two years, but those changes bring new, sometimes unfamiliar ways of doing things.

But a faceoff rule can’t be misapplied and an opportunity for video review can’t be missed because an official doesn’t remember one of this year’s changes.

“Their job is to embrace all the information,” Piotrowski says. “Our job is to create an atmosphere of learning. It’s also to provide them the tools and information so they really feel comfortable about embracing it.”

Plymouth State women add ex-St. Lawrence blueliner Wilkinson as new assistant coach

 

19124852 Plymouth State women add ex St. Lawrence blueliner Wilkinson as new assistant coach

Dayle Wilkinson, shown during her playing days at St. Lawrence, was recently named an assistant coach for Plymouth State (photo: Melissa Wade).

The Plymouth State women’s team has named Dayle Wilkinson as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season.

Wilkinson graduated from St. Lawrence in 2014 after four years as a standout defenseman for the Saints where she served as captain her senior year and was selected to the ECAC All-Academic team in each season.

“Dayle will be an instrumental addition to our program and we are excited to welcome her to the Plymouth State community,” said PSU coach Ashley Kilstein in a statement. “Between Dayle’s clear knowledge of the game, vast experience and passion for teaching the game the way she played it, we are certain she will be an exceptional fit.”

Wilkinson will be attending graduate school at Plymouth State with a concentration in clinical mental health counseling.

Leaman going into Cortland C-Club Hall

Providence coach Nate Leaman will be inducted into the Cortland C-Club Hall of Fame during its 46th annual banquet and ceremonies on Saturday, Sept. 13. Leaman is a 1997 graduate of Cortland, where he served as a captain his junior and senior years. He currently ranks 11th at the school in career assists and 18th in career points.

Former Kazmaier winner Kessel to miss Minnesota’s season with ‘lingering concussion symptoms’

 

Kessel Former Kazmaier winner Kessel to miss Minnesotas season with lingering concussion symptoms

Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel will miss the 2014-15 season due to ongoing concussion issues.

Minnesota announced today that forward Amanda Kessel will not return to the Gophers’ lineup this season because of lingering concussion symptoms due to injuries sustained as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

“I’ve had an unforgettable experience at the University of Minnesota thus far, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to return to the team this year,” Kessel said in a statement. “It’s obviously a difficult decision and one that I’ve taken time to come to terms with. As someone who has played through a lot of injuries, it wasn’t until suffering a concussion that I fully understood the importance of being 100 percent healthy when I’m on the ice. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now.

“My number one priority is my health, and I hope that I’ll be able to return to the ice in the future. I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at the university for their support.”

Kessel has worked with doctors and specialists at the Carrick Brain Center in Atlanta to determine her course of action.

“We obviously wish we could have Amanda with us this year, but her health is everyone’s top priority,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost added. “She has come to the difficult conclusion to focus solely on her treatment at this time. We understand and support her decision and hope she fully recovers. She will always have a place in our locker room, and we will continue to support her.”

Kessel missed the 2013-14 season while training with and competing for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where the U.S. won silver.

In her first three seasons with the Gophers, Kessel amassed 97 goals and 134 assists and ranks fourth all-time at the school with 231 career points. Kessel was named the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner and led Minnesota to its fifth national title and a perfect 41-0-0 season as a junior in 2012-13.

Marrochello named new Boston University AD

Drew Marrochello, who has been acting as Boston University’s interim director of athletics since July, when former director Michael Lynch stepped down, has had the interim tag removed. Marrochello joined BU in 2005 as associate athletic director for internal affairs and was promoted to deputy director of athletics, a position he has held for the past seven years.

NCHC introduces new digital network – NCHC.tv

The NCHC has partnered with NeuLion to launch its own digital network, NCHC.tv, beginning with the upcoming 2014-15 season.

In doing so, the NCHC becomes the first single-sport NCAA conference to offer a fully integrated digital network.

NCHC.tv will allow fans to watch nearly all of their team’s games live, both home and away, while also viewing other NCHC action occurring at the same time. In addition to the live games, fans who subscribe to the network will have access to other live events, as they are produced, and will be able to access archived games and condensed games. Live audio of the games is also included with a subscription.

Among the free on-demand video available on the network will be game highlights, midweek and postgame press conferences, conference features, such as the Top 5 Goals of the Week, and unique hockey features from the NCHC members.

“We are extremely excited to provide an innovative and integrated concept to our passionate NCHC fan base,” NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said in a statement. “The creation of NCHC.tv helps build the brand of the conference and improve the overall fan interaction and experience. This significant step forward is a credit to the vision of our member schools for wanting to create something that distinguishes our conference. We look forward to working alongside NeuLion to build the network and content long into the future.”

Individuals can purchase the conference season package for $89.95, which offers the highest value among all streaming packages at well less than $1 per game. For fans who only want access to their favorite team’s games, including road contests at NCHC schools, season packages are available for $74.95. Monthly and single-event packages will be available at a later date.

Any subscriber who signs up for a conference season package will automatically receive the NCHC tournament games available on the network. A separate postseason package will be available closer to the end of the season.

As of Sept. 10, individuals will no longer be able to sign up for live streaming hockey subscriptions through a member school’s website and hockey subscriptions will no longer be automatically renewed. For fans of Miami, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha or Western Michigan who already have an existing subscription that allows access to hockey content through a member school, NeuLion will upgrade them to the conference level package on NCHC.tv for the remainder of their existing subscription.

Merrimack brings aboard former Massachusetts assistant Gilligan as new associate head coach

Merrimack announced Wednesday the hiring of former Massachusetts assistant coach Bill Gilligan as the Warriors’ new associate head coach.

“I am thrilled to be working with Bill again,” Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said in a news release. “He is a tireless worker and an excellent evaluator of talent. He is the perfect compliment to our staff. I am confident Coaches Carr and Carratu, as well as the players, will learn from this great teacher of the game.”

“I am excited about joining the Merrimack hockey program and the opportunity to work with the other members of the coaching staff and the team,” Gilligan added. “I am well aware of the high level of competition in our league, as well as the quality of work needed for our program to be successful. I am looking forward to this challenge.”

Since leaving UMass in 2004, Gilligan has spent time as a head coach internationally in Switzerland and Austria, including one stint as the head coach of the Austrian National Team where he also headed up the entire Austrian hockey operation in addition to his coaching duties. Gilligan also has extensive experience as a talent evaluator, serving as general manager overseas and as a scout for the Los Angeles Kings.

An All-American at Brown, Gilligan is still the school’s all-time leading scorer and assists leader.

He also served as the head coach of the Swiss Junior National Team and led it to a third-place finish in the 1998 World Junior Championship.

Former Wisconsin, Team USA star Bob Suter passes away at the age of 57

As first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, former Wisconsin star and “Miracle On Ice” Olympian Bob Suter died Tuesday, of an apparent heart attack.

Suter was 57.

“We are all stunned,” said Suter’s teammate at Wisconsin and on the Olympics and current Wisconsin women’s coach Mark Johnson in a statement. “Everyone is shocked. It’s a sad day for not only the community of Madison, but the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder. Whether it’s high school, onto college or onto the professional ranks, he touched a lot of kids and gave them an opportunity. I think he was in a great place with the new USHL team coming in and they were just getting up and starting to practice and getting ready for some exhibition games.

“It is unfortunate that this happened at such a young age and there are a lot of people who are going to miss him.”

Suter played for the Badgers from 1975 to 1979, winning a national title in 1977, and later won gold for the United States at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

“This is a heartbreaking day,” added Wisconsin coach and former teammate Mike Eaves. “Bob was the ultimate teammate. He could skate like the wind and was as hard of a competitor that I ever knew. He has passed much too young.”

A Madison, Wis., native, Suter helped youth players through the Madison Capitols program at the Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, which is where he was when the heart attack occurred Tuesday.

Ryan Suter, Bob’s son, currently plays for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and like his father and uncle, Gary, also played at Wisconsin.

WCHA announces office staff changes, move to new Edina location

The WCHA announced Monday the hiring of two new staff member to assist new commissioners Bill Robertson and Aaron Kemp.

Matt Hodson, who has spent time in Major League Baseball and also worked at a Director’s Cup-winning Division I athletic department, the University of Minnesota central communications office and a Minneapolis-based public relations firm, has been named the associate commissioner for public relations and will oversee the league’s external and internal communications, brand marketing and social media.

In addition, Alyssa Bennett has been named associate commissioner for the WCHA. She will manage the conference’s budget and finance, handle vendor contracts, serve as a liaison with member institutions, handle office operations, marketing, social media, help manage the conference championships – the WCHA Final Five (men’s) and WCHA Final Face-Off (women’s) – and assist the commissioners with planning.

Carol LaBelle-Ehrhardt and Doug Spencer, long-time aides to retiring commissioners Bruce McLeod and Sara Martin. Labelle-Ehrhardt, are no longer with the WCHA.

“We are very excited to add Ms. Alyssa Bennett and Mr. Matt Hodson to our WCHA staff and I believe they will be able to make an impact on our overall operations,” said Robertson in a statement. “Both Carol LaBelle and Doug Spencer have served our conference so well for many years and we wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors and appreciate all their assistance during the transitional period.”

“We appreciate all the work Carol and Doug have done in making the WCHA such a recognizable and respected name in college hockey,” added Kemp. “We wish them well. We also look forward to Matt and Alyssa helping us build on the WCHA brand which Carol and Doug and the member-institutions have established.”

Bennett and Hodson will start their new jobs in mid-September and work in the league’s new centralized offices in Edina, Minn. Bill Brophy will continue to assist the conference in public relations for the women’s WCHA.

Greg Shepherd will remain as supervisor of officials for both the men’s and women’s leagues.

The WCHA opened its new offices in late August. The new mailing address is:

WCHA, Suite C
Minnesota State University, Mankato at Edina,
7700 France Avenue South, Suite 360,
Edina, MN 55431

The office phone number is 952-818-8869.

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