Polling season has begun; USCHO polls start in the coming weeks

It’s the time of year when we start seeing leagues release the results of preseason coaches polls, with an occasional media poll thrown in.

ECAC Hockey was the first out on the women’s side Monday, with Harvard leading the rankings.

We’ll post the rest as they come in, but here’s a heads-up that the USCHO.com polls will be starting in the coming weeks.

The preseason USCHO.com Division I Women’s Poll is scheduled for release on Monday, Sept. 22, with its counterpart in Division I men set for Sept. 29.

The preseason polls for Division III men and women are scheduled for Oct. 27, a few days before teams are eligible to begin competition.

Get up to speed with this season’s changes with the NCAA’s rules video

It’s not a new college hockey season without a rules video.

So here’s the long version of the 2014-15 product from the NCAA. There’s a slightly shorter version without some women’s clips, but the ideas are the same.

If you’re not into 14-minute videos, here are the rule changes in list form: (You also can find these in the new NCAA rule book.)

1. Goal Pegs. (Rule 2.1) Effective with the 2016-17 season, all institutions must have a goal anchoring system with 10-inch pegs in place.

Rationale. To reduce the number of stoppages for the goal cage becoming dislodged. Most NCAA institutions already use some anchoring system, but allowing some time to prepare and work with off-campus facilities is needed.

2. Faceoff Location — Offensive Scoring Opportunity. (Rule 81.2) When the attacking team is attempting to score a goal and the puck goes out of play as a result, the faceoff shall remain in the attacking zone. The puck must have been shot/passed from the attacking zone and be a clear attempt to score for the faceoff to remain in the zone.

Rationale. Rewards the offensive team and eliminates the sometimes difficult determination of which team the puck deflected off of before leaving the ice.

3. Faceoff Location — High Stick/Hand Pass. (Rule 81.2) When play is stopped due to a high stick or hand pass violation, the ensuing faceoff will take place one zone closer to the offending team’s goal.

Rationale. Previously, the faceoff was always in the offending team’s defending zone, which the committee believes is too punitive.

4. Video Review: Sequence of Penalty and Goal. (Rule 93.2) The video criteria will be changed to review if a goal was scored before a penalty infraction occurred.

Rationale. Provides officials with another opportunity to correctly administer the game.

5. Video Review: Offsides/Too Many Men. (Rule 93.2) The time sequence for review of an offside or too many men infraction ends when the puck leaves the attacking zone. Previously, the review was to take place only if the infraction led directly to a goal.

Rationale. Clarifies the allowable amount of time/play that can occur with the review still being in effect.

6. Video Review: General. (Rule 93.1) Any video that is available for review purposes will be allowed. Previously, only games that were televised were eligible for review purposes.

Rationale. Clarifies the allowable use of video.

7. Video Review: NCAA Championship. (Rule 93.4) During the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship only, the rules committee has authorized officials in the tournament to use video replay during the game to review penalties that would result in the removal of a student-athlete to ensure proper enforcement.

Rationale. The quality and availability of video replay in the Division I Men’s Championship is consistent and will enhance the game officials’ effort to properly penalize actions on the ice immediately.

8. Interference: Blindside hits. (Rule 59.1) A category of penalty in the interference rule will be added to separate a severe blindside hit from the contact to the head penalty. In these cases, a major penalty may be called for blindside contact when the head is not contacted.

Rationale. Allows officials to appropriately designate these penalties. The NHL has taken a similar approach in this area.

9. Faceoffs: Dropping the Puck. (Rule 81.3) Linesmen shall “present” the puck; current mechanic is to drop the puck from the beltline.

Rationale. More in line with mechanics used in most other areas of hockey.

10. Faceoffs: Closing the Hand on the Puck. (Rule 81.2) If either faceoff player closes the hand on the puck during the immediate action after the puck is dropped, it shall be an automatic minor penalty.

Rationale. Eliminates an unfair tactic and forces faceoff players to use their stick/skates to win the faceoff

11. Faceoffs: Official’s Error on Icing. (Rule 81.2) All faceoffs in this situation will be moved to center ice. Previously, the officials could conduct a faceoff at a place that did not unduly penalize one team; that led to some inconsistencies and the consensus was to move to the center ice faceoff.

Rationale. Eliminates inconsistent rulings and is as fair as possible to both teams.

12. Faceoffs: Attacking Team Stick Down Last in Zone Line. (Rule 81.3) In faceoffs in the attacking zone, the defending team will put down the stick first during the faceoff. In all other faceoffs, the visiting team will put the stick down first.

Rationale. To provide the attacking team some advantage during offensive zone faceoffs.

13. Penalty Shot/Shootouts: Goal Dislodged. (Rule 25.2) During a shootout or penalty shot, if the goal becomes dislodged by the goalkeeper, the referee shall either award a goal (if intentional or if the goal was obvious and imminent) or allow the team to shoot again.

Rationale. This guarantees the offensive team the opportunity to shoot, whether the dislodgement was intentional or not.

14. Penalty Shot: Injured Player. (Rule 25.2) If a player that is awarded a penalty shot is injured and unable to take the shot, one of the players on the ice at the time of the infraction shall be chosen to shoot.

Rationale. Clarifies and makes NCAA rule consistent with most other levels.

15. Intermissions: Allowable Time During NCAA Championships. (Rule 82.1) Intermissions in the NCAA championship may be as many as 18 minutes.

Rationale. Allows the NCAA championship committees to adjust timing for better ice conditions and broadcasting concerns.

16. Overtime Period: Stoppage Under 10 Minutes. (Rule 91.4) In these cases, at the first stoppage of play under the 10 minute mark, ice maintenance shall be allowed, if available. Note: The allowable stoppages are the same as the NCAA TV Timeout protocol (e.g., stoppage for icing does not qualify).

Rationale. Will provide better ice conditions and a brief timeout for both teams.

17. Uniforms: Contrast Between Number and Jersey. (Rule 9.1) Uniform numbers must be a light color number on dark sweaters and a dark colored number on light colored jerseys.

Rationale. Eliminates any confusion on numbering and provides manufacturers/teams with clear direction.

18. Uniforms: Numbers on Helmets Recommended. (Rule 9.4) The committee recommends that teams add numbers to the front of student-athlete helmets.

Rationale. Will assist with proper identification of student-athletes.

19. Goal Nets: NHL-Style Nets Allowed. (Rule 2.2) Note that the new NHL nets are considered to be legal for NCAA play.

Rationale. Editorial clarification.

20. Two Goalkeeper Requirement. (Rule 5.3) To remove the requirement for a waiver to start the game with one goalkeeper. A delay will not be allowed if the goalkeeper is penalized or otherwise incapacitated.

Rationale. Removes unneeded paperwork to a rare situation.

21. Women’s Hockey: Experimental Rule — High Sticking the Puck. (Rule 64) For the next two seasons, in women’s ice hockey, players shall be allowed to legally high-stick the puck. This experimental rule will be allowed in exhibition games and by conference request only; any non-conference and NCAA championship games will continue to enforce the current high-sticking rule.

Rationale. Strong support in the women’s ice hockey community exists to allow play to continue in these cases. Rules remain that protect student-athlete safety and will continue to be strictly enforced.

22. Look-Up Line. (Rule 1.1) Recommendation. The committee approved the use of a warning-track style line. The use of this line will not be mandatory, but is permissible.

Rationale. Potential enhancement to student-athlete safety; USA Hockey has formed a task force to study its use and implementation.

In that list, I’d push for No. 7 to be included for all games, not just the NCAA tournament.

The rationale in limiting review of penalties that could include an ejection to just NCAA tournament games seems to be that those games have more usable video available.

There was a point, however, when the rules committee opened up video replay for goals in regular season play, knowing that the quality (and utilization, for that matter) was not going to be consistent from conference to conference.

I’d say if there’s video available that can help determine if a hit rises to the level of an ejectable offense, referees should be able to use it for such an important decision.

I included the three points of emphasis for this season in Monday’s story about the Big Ten officials clinic I attended earlier this month, but they’re worth reprinting here, too.

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.

Back to the ice: Here’s how teams captured the first day of practice

You’ve probably seen plenty of pictures on Facebook of kids posing on the first day of school.

College hockey has its equivalents, and Monday was one of those days.

The official first day of practice for most Division I men’s college hockey teams is still more than two weeks away, but Monday was a key day nonetheless.

Starting on Sept. 15 each year, teams are able to spend two hours per week together on the ice with coaches for skill instruction.

Once the school year starts, coaches can do on-ice work with groups of no more than four players at a time. And players can work out in captains practices.

But Monday was what some consider the first day of practice.

Some teams chronicled the day on social media. Alabama-Huntsville put together a video of the morning skate.

Connecticut went through its first workout as a Hockey East member.

We saw some legendary coaches back on the ice.


And here’s a sampling from the rest of college hockey.





The season officially starts for most schools on Saturday, Oct. 4. We say most schools because Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage are exempt from starting date bylaws.

The Nanooks have the honor of playing the first game this season against outside competition, an exhibition against Western Ontario on Oct. 3.

Division I women’s teams start playing against outside competition this Saturday, with Quinnipiac and Robert Morris playing exhibition games.

Should responsibility for issuing suspensions move from referees to conferences?

STC UMD46 Should responsibility for issuing suspensions move from referees to conferences?

NCHC referee Todd Anderson gives an explanation to Minnesota-Duluth’s Caleb Herbert (photo: Jim Rosvold).

In theory, the technology exists to allow referees to see a video replay to help determine whether to assess a minor or major penalty or whether to give a game misconduct or game disqualification.

One of the big hurdles in implementation, however, seems to be ensuring that video of a sufficient quality can be available at all levels of college hockey where such a system would be put in place.

On top of that, however, is an intriguing idea that the NCAA men’s and women’s ice hockey rules committee will look at when it convenes for its annual June meeting this week.

A referee’s decision between a game misconduct and a game disqualification puts at least the offending player’s next game in jeopardy. A disqualification carries an automatic one-game suspension for a first offense in a season, two games for a second offense and so on.

What if it wasn’t the referee who made that call? What if that decision in most cases was left to the conferences to handle in a supplemental-discipline procedure that could use all available video and officials input?

It’s something that the rules committee will debate as it tweaks the rule book for the next two seasons.

As usual, there were a lot of rules issues discussed when committee members heard from coaches at their meetings in late April and early May.

But the topic of video review of major penalties was on the table for a good chunk of time, indicating the weight that’s being placed on setting a course for getting calls right.

It needs to be a priority, considering what’s on the line. Taking any player out of a game changes the bench dynamics, and taking a player out of his or her next game changes the team dynamics. So you’d like for those calls to be made using the best available knowledge. If that’s video, so be it.

The committee’s job, however, is to determine how to do things responsibly. A nationally televised Division I men’s game obviously has a lot more camera lenses pointed on it than a Division III women’s game, so writing one rule to cover the whole sport can be tricky.

And no one wants a 10-minute delay in a game, which needs to be a consideration for any use of in-game penalty reviews.

But a proposal to eliminate many in-game uses of the disqualification penalty (except for fighting and gross misconduct penalties) could serve as an important step toward at least making sure the supplemental discipline is handled without having to make a snap decision.

The 13-member rules committee, which includes coaches and administrators from men’s and women’s schools at the Division I and Division III levels, meets Monday through Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Chair Tom Anastos, coach at Michigan State, took to Twitter on Sunday:

He got some interesting responses:










The discussion of how to decide tie games will be interesting because the coaches didn’t show much support for changing the overtime format.

A four-on-four format is already in the rule book in much the same way the shootout is — to be used “by conference policy or mutual consent of the participating teams.” If it has been used, it has been in limited exposure.

It should be noted, however, that coaches aren’t the only stakeholders in the equation. Administrators and conference officials get their say, too, before the rules committee makes a decision.

Consider Sunday a test for the neutral-site regional format

Some thoughts as we head into the final two games of the 2014 NCAA regionals:

Watch the attendance

It’s no secret that the NCAA men’s ice hockey committee is considering taking tournament games back to campus sites with more regularity.

When the NCAA announced sites for tournaments in the next four seasons last December, it left open the 2017 and 2018 regionals to avoid being locked into a neutral-site regional format that may have run its course.

Look for more on this topic this week on USCHO, but it’s notable that the total attendance for this year’s regionals (40,049 through six sessions) has already surpassed that of last season (37,321) with the Sunday games left to be played.

But keep an eye on Sunday’s attendance in Worcester, Mass., and St. Paul, Minn., because if there was ever going to be a case for keeping the regionals at neutral sites, those places have to make it.

In both regional locations, two teams from that state will play for a trip to the Frozen Four. Boston College and Massachusetts-Lowell play in Worcester, while Minnesota and St. Cloud State skate in St. Paul.

If that doesn’t attract a good crowd, you could argue that nothing will and it’s time to try something else.

Nothing new here

After last year’s Frozen Four featured four teams that had never before been in the national semifinals, this year’s event will feature none.

North Dakota will make its 20th appearance, while Union will make its second.

Boston College, Lowell, Minnesota and St. Cloud State have all been there before.

Goals on the rebound

Through 10 games of the 2014 NCAA tournament, the scoring average is on the rebound, albeit ever so slightly.

After averaging 6.7 goals per game in a relatively high-flying 2010 tournament (a high for the 16-team-tournament era that dates to 2003), the average dropped over the next three years, to 5.3 in 2011, 5.2 in 2012 and 5.1 last year.

There have been 54 goals so far this season, for a 5.4 average.

Only 7 percent of brackets are unblemished, and the Friday No. 4 seed strikes again

After the first day of the 2014 NCAA tournament, 93 percent of the brackets entered in College Hockey Pickem 2014 are out of the running for the coveted perfect bracket.

(For the record: No, $1 billion is not on the line here.)

Of 10,937 completed brackets, only 807 (7 percent) correctly picked all four Friday outcomes.

You could argue that North Dakota’s upset of Midwest Regional top seed Wisconsin did a lot of people in, but are 4-over-1 upsets really all that hard to see coming anymore?

We’ve reached nine straight years with a No. 4 seed winning on the opening Friday of the tournament.

2006: Holy Cross 4, Minnesota 3, OT
2007: Massachusetts 1, Clarkson 0, OT
2008: Notre Dame 7, New Hampshire 3
2009: Air Force 2, Michigan 0; Miami 4, Denver 2
2010: Rochester Institute of Technology 2, Denver 1
2011: Colorado College 8, Boston College 4
2012: Cornell 3, Michigan 2, OT
2013: Yale 3, Minnesota 2, OT
2014: North Dakota 5, Wisconsin 2

Of those 10 teams, four took the next step and won the second-round game to advance to the Frozen Four: Notre Dame in 2008, Miami in 2009, RIT in 2010 and Yale in 2013.

Keep that in mind 51 weeks from now when you’re eyeing up those Friday games in College Hockey Pickem 2015.

Here’s how the championship predictions break down in College Hockey Pickem 2014

In nearly 11,000 valid brackets entered for College Hockey Pickem 2014, two schools combined to get more than half of the predictions to win the NCAA tournament.

Top overall seed Minnesota is the favorite with 32 percent of the championship picks. Boston College, which has won the title in three straight even years, was next at 21 percent.

In all, 10,937 valid brackets were entered for College Hockey Pickem 2014, up from 10,648 last season. Here’s how the championship predictions break down:

Title picks
Boston College224320.51%
North Dakota7156.54%
St. Cloud State3122.85%
Notre Dame2762.52%
Ferris State1721.57%
Minnesota State870.80%
Robert Morris130.12%

Don’t feel bad for Robert Morris. Last season, only 14 brackets had Yale as the national champion.

Here’s what we’re planning for championship weekend

We’re gearing up for our biggest coverage weekend of the season, with not only conference championships being decided in Division I men’s hockey but NCAA titles on the line in Division III and at the women’s Frozen Four.

Once again this season, you’ll be able to follow along live from most events as our staffers provide coverage from the arenas on our live blogs.

And you can see live scores and stats from the Division I men’s games on our live scoreboard page, scoreboard.uscho.com. That page is responsive so it works well on mobile devices, too.

Here’s the schedule of events, with links to the live blogs where available (note that they won’t be active until just before the first game of the day and they may be in standby between games):


2 p.m. CDT, Big Ten quarterfinals: The first session of the day from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., features Michigan against Penn State. Live blog

7 p.m. CDT, Big Ten quarterfinals: The second session of the day from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., features Ohio State against Michigan State. Live blog


2 p.m. EDT, WCHA Final Five semifinals: The first session of the day from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., features Minnesota State against Bowling Green. Live blog

2 p.m. CDT, Big Ten semifinals: The first session of the day from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., features Wisconsin against Thursday afternoon’s winner. Live blog

3:30 p.m. EDT, Division III women’s semifinals: From Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena in Plattsburgh, N.Y., it’s Plattsburgh vs. St. Thomas followed by Norwich vs. Wisconsin-River Falls.

4 p.m. EDT, Atlantic Hockey semifinals: From Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y., Mercyhurst plays Canisius, followed by Robert Morris vs. Niagara. Live blog

4 p.m. EDT, ECAC Hockey semifinals: From Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y., it’s Union vs. Cornell followed by Colgate vs. Quinnipiac. Live blog

4 p.m. CDT, NCHC semifinals: From the Target Center in Minneapolis, it’s Western Michigan vs. Denver followed by North Dakota vs. Miami. Live blog

4 p.m. EDT, Division III men’s semifinals: From Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine, it’s St. Norbert vs. Geneseo followed by Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. Oswego. Live blog link to come

5 p.m. EDT, Hockey East semifinals: From TD Garden in Boston, it’s Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Notre Dame followed by Providence vs. New Hampshire. Live blog

5 p.m. EDT, women’s Frozen Four semifinals: From High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden, Conn., it’s Minnesota vs. Wisconsin followed by Clarkson vs. Mercyhurst. Live blog


3:30 p.m. EDT, Division III women’s third-place and championship games: Two games from Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena in Plattsburgh, N.Y., with the consolation game up first.

3:30 p.m. CDT, NCHC third-place and championship games: Two games from the Target Center in Minneapolis, with the consolation game starting the day. Live blog

7 p.m. EDT, Atlantic Hockey championship game: From Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. Live blog

7 p.m. EDT, Hockey East championship game: From TD Garden in Boston. Live blog

7 p.m. EDT, WCHA Final Five championship game: From Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. Live blog

7 p.m. EDT, Division III men’s championship game: From Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. Live blog link to come

7:30 p.m. EDT, ECAC Hockey championship game: From Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. Live blog

7 p.m. CDT, Big Ten championship game: From the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Live blog


Noon EDT, NCAA tournament selection show: We’ll start our live blog at around 11 a.m. EDT, when the No. 1 seeds will be announced on Twitter. If you’re in the Minneapolis area, stop by an USCHO watch party at Campus Pizza & Pasta, where doors will open at a special time, 10:30 a.m. local time. Live blog

3 p.m. EDT, women’s Frozen Four championship game: From High Point Solutions Arena in Hamden, Conn. Live blog

Playoff Central

Find brackets and all of the coverage we have from Division I men’s conference playoffs on the Playoff Central pages for each league:

Atlantic Hockey
Big Ten
ECAC Hockey
Hockey East


If you have any questions, concerns, suggestions or other forms of feedback on our coverage, please send me an email.

13-year-old Maine recruit Oliver Wahlstrom mature for his age, coach says

Oliver Wahlstrom is 13 years old, a seventh-grader at Maine’s North Yarmouth Academy and has made a verbal commitment to his home-state Black Bears.

wahlstrom 13 year old Maine recruit Oliver Wahlstrom mature for his age, coach says

Oliver Wahlstrom is the first player born in the 2000s to make a verbal commitment (photo via North Yarmouth Academy).

The college hockey recruiting world took notice of that last fact when it started making the rounds Thursday night after his school and family got the publicity going.

In addition to being the first player from the 2000s to have given a college hockey team a verbal commitment, Wahlstrom, 5-foot-9, 155-pound forward, is the youngest known player ever to have verballed in hockey.

Is he ready at age 13 to make that call when he won’t be a college player until the fall of 2019? That’s impossible to say, but his coach at North Yarmouth Academy said Wahlstrom has traits beyond his years.

“I think what’s unique about Oliver is his maturity at his age, as funny as that sounds,” said Eric Graham, the second-year varsity coach at the prep school. “He’s a very mature kid. He’s very committed to working hard and reaching his goals, much more beyond a typical seventh-grader for sure.

“He’s very rigid and very structured in his approach to the game, and I think that’s helped him get to this point. I think it also helps that he’s a Maine kid. And obviously, every Maine kid grows up dreaming to go to the University of Maine.”

Five years ago, while I was covering Wisconsin for The Capital Times, I talked to 14-year-old Jordan Schmaltz, who had just given the hometown Badgers a verbal commitment before he started high school.

His father, Mike, said it was “surreal” that his 14-year-old son was getting a scholarship offer.

Schmaltz is currently in his second season at North Dakota, proof that careers don’t always progress as originally planned.

Wahlstrom has earned his share of attention, even before his early commitment.

YouTube helped with that:

Graham said being a viral phenom helped turned Wahlstrom into a known commodity.

“He’s definitely someone that has had attention following him around, and I think it was only a matter of time once he started playing at the high school level that some colleges were going to start catching onto the buzz,” Graham said.

That transition to varsity came this season, and Graham said Wahlstrom’s skating ability makes the seventh-grader able to compete at the higher level.

His awareness of where everyone else is on the ice doesn’t show up in those YouTube clips, but it may be one of the better parts of his game.

“I think that is so far beyond a typical 13-year-old skill set,” Graham said. “It’s really off the charts, especially with the ice awareness.”

Maine coaches aren’t able to talk about Wahlstrom until after he signs a National Letter of Intent, and that day is quite a ways away.

No one knows for sure what will happen by 2019, when Wahlstrom is now scheduled to join the Black Bears. Will his career stay on the same advanced arc? Will Maine have the same appeal to him? Will major juniors get in the picture?

Given all that, let’s just take this development as what it is: another sign that college hockey recruiting is going younger, yes, but also just a nonbinding commitment.

Some of your thoughts on the Frozen Four host finalists

Xcel Energy Center WCHA Final Five Some of your thoughts on the Frozen Four host finalists

The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., last hosted the Frozen Four in 2011 (photo: Jim Rosvold).

The NCAA released the list of 10 finalists to host the 2015 through 2018 men’s Frozen Fours on Wednesday, and we asked our followers on Twitter and Facebook which of those sites they would most like to see host the event.

Here are some of the responses:




And from our Facebook page, these comments:

By Adam Slander:

Should be played at the X in St Paul every year. Just like college baseball have it a one location every year.

By Thomas Schmeh:

after all this time, was hoping that the sites would be more exciting (i.e. – new and different)

By Phil Squattrito:

My choices would be Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus and St. Paul. They’re smaller cities that are within driving distance of a lot of college hockey fans.

We’ll know which sites get selected when the announcements are made on Dec. 11.

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