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?

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.

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

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.

As college hockey changes, so do we

The big story as the 2013-14 Division I men’s college hockey season gets under way is the large-scale landscape change that is finally going into effect after three years of planning.

Thirty-five of the 59 teams are either playing in a new conference this season or are part of a league that has changed membership.

Here at U.S. College Hockey Online, we had to do some changing of our own, and I’d like to introduce (or, in some cases, reintroduce) you to our corps of writers who’ll cover the conferences.

Starting with the new leagues, we have Paula C. Weston and Drew Claussen covering the Big Ten and Candace Horgan and Matthew Semisch working in the NCHC.

Shane Frederick and Matt Wellens will keep tabs on the new-look WCHA for us, while Dan Rubin joins Chris Lerch in covering Atlantic Hockey.

Dave Hendrickson and Jim Connelly are back to write about Hockey East, and Brian Sullivan and Nate Owen return to the ECAC Hockey beat.

I hope you’ll agree that this is a great group of people to drive our 18th season of Division I men’s college hockey coverage.

Some other items to keep an eye out for:

• A refresh of our site to make it more accessible on mobile platforms.

• A new live scoreboard.

• An update to our iOS app and the rollout of an Android app.

So here’s to a fun 2013-14 season. We started our season preview coverage this week with a look at 10 players to watch at each position — goaltenders, defensemen and forwards — and our conference and team season previews will start rolling out on Sunday. If you missed it live on Tuesday night, check out our special two-hour edition of USCHO Live!, previewing the season conference by conference with our writers.

If you ever have any comments or suggestions on our coverage or on the site in general, feel free to send them my way via email at editor@uscho.com.

As always, thanks for reading and for continuing the conversation on the game that we all love.

Committee has the final call on classifying neutral-site games

In trying to sort out the issues stemming from the new selection criteria rolled out by the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee last week, we’ve looked at one of the biggest: the differences between the old and the new as it relates to a real scenario.

Here’s another: Which games count as being played at a neutral site?

The criteria will weight results based on where the game is played, with teams getting an extra reward for winning on the road. Neutral-site games, meanwhile, receive no extra weight. But I’ve always had some uncertainty as to what qualifies for neutral status.

Some of them are obvious. When Clarkson plays New Hampshire at the Ice Breaker tournament at Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena, that’s a neutral site.

Some are a little less clear. How about when Rochester Institute of Technology takes a home game against Michigan to Blue Cross Arena in Rochester? How about RIT’s outdoor game against Niagara?

Does Minnesota have home games at the Xcel Energy Center in the North Star College Cup?

We asked the NCAA for some clarification, and we got these set of guidelines:

Home/Away/Neutral Site Games

The following guidelines and examples are for regular-season and postseason contests.

Team A is playing Team B. For results and the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), the game is considered a “home” game for Team A and an “away” game for Team B if the site of the contest:

• is the regular home site for Team A. Example: The Tennessee baseball team is hosting a tournament and is listed as the visitor for its game with Ball State. It is considered a home game for Tennessee since it is still the Vols’ home field.

• is in the same city or a reasonable distance within the metropolitan area of Team A, and its opponent, Team B, is from outside the metro area. Example: The Butler women’s basketball team has scheduled a home game with Tennessee and wants to move to a larger arena to accommodate an expected larger crowd. The game is moved to Conseco Fieldhouse, which is still in the same metro area as Butler and just a few miles away. It still is considered Butler’s home game.

• is in the same city or a reasonable distance within the metropolitan area of both teams and one team, Team A, is designated as the home team and includes the game in its season-ticket package. Example: The College of Charleston men’s basketball team is playing host to Charleston Southern. The game is moved to a larger arena to accommodate an expected larger crowd. The game is played in the North Charleston Coliseum, which is still in the same metro area of both teams. It is considered the College of Charleston’s home game since it is designated as such and is included in the season-ticket package. This game is not included in the Charleston Southern season-ticket package. In fact, the College of Charleston and Charleston Southern meet every year and rotate which team is the designated home team and includes the game in its season-ticket package. If both or neither team includes this game in its season-ticket package, then the game would be a neutral site game for both teams.

• is in the same area of Team A and Team A plays some or several “home” games there each season. Oftentimes these games are included in the season ticket package offered by the school. Example: The Connecticut men’s basketball team plays some of its home games in its hometown of Storrs; however, the Huskies play most of their games in nearby Hartford. Both sites are considered home sites.

• is in a city close by Team A and Team A designates the game as a “home” game that will count in its home attendance. The game is also included in the season ticket package offered by the school. Example: Ole Miss men’s basketball team plays a game every two to three years in Tupelo, Mississippi, which is 48 miles away from Oxford. Ole Miss always counts it as a home game and includes the game in its season home attendance.

• is a temporary “home” site while the regular home site for Team A is being renovated. Example: McGaw Hall on the Northwestern campus is being renovated, which forces the Northwestern basketball teams to move all their home games from Evanston to nearby Chicago and play in DePaul’s home arena. These games are considered home games for Northwestern since that is where the Wildcats are playing their scheduled home games during the renovation.

• is a nearby temporary emergency site while the regular home site for Team A is being repaired. Example: Owensboro Sportscenter at Kentucky Wesleyan was damaged in a tornado. This forces Kentucky Wesleyan to move its basketball home game with Southern Indiana to a nearby high school gymnasium while the Sportscenter is being repaired. Since this game was played in a nearby temporary set-up, it is still considered a home game for Kentucky Wesleyan. However, if no area arenas or gymnasiums are available and the game is moved the 40 miles away to Southern Indiana’s home court, then the game is now considered a home game for Southern Indiana.

Team A is playing Team B. For results and RPIs, the game is considered a “neutral site” game for both teams if the site of the contest:

• is at another school that is hosting a tournament. Example: The Kansas State women’s volleyball team is hosting a tournament. Arizona and Texas A&M play each other in a match in Manhattan. It’s a neutral site match for both teams.

• is at another school that is hosting a tournament, even though Team A is from the same metro area as the host school and Team B is not. Example: The Temple women’s lacrosse team is hosting a tournament and Villanova plays a game against Auburn. Although Temple and Villanova are both in Philadelphia, since Temple is hosting the tournament on its campus site, only games involving Temple would have a home site. All other games would be counted as neutral sites.

• is in the same city or metropolitan area of both teams and is not the home site for either team. Example: The Temple women’s basketball team is playing Villanova and the game is being played in the Spectrum. The Wells Fargo Center is in Philadelphia and is not the regular home site for either team even though both teams are from Philadelphia. It’s a neutral site game for both teams. The only exception is if Temple was scheduled to host the game and decided to move it to the Wells Fargo Center (a larger arena) to accommodate an expected larger crowd. Then it is Temple’s home game and Villanova’s away game.

• is not in the metropolitan area for either team. Example: The city of Denver is the site for a softball game between Southern Colorado of Pueblo and Air Force of Colorado Springs. It’s a neutral site game for both teams.

Since the determination of home/away and neutral site games can sometimes be a complicated issue, a school can appeal to the NCAA for exceptions to the rule.

• Example: Butler is playing Indiana in men’s basketball at Conseco Fieldhouse. By all indications this should be a home game for Butler since the arena is located in the same city (Indianapolis) as Butler and just a few miles from the campus. IU is in Bloomington, which is 47 miles away from Indianapolis. However, it was IU which contracted the game with Butler and rented the arena, and IU’s conference, the Big Ten, which assigned the game officials. The game was not a part of either team’s season ticket package, but was included as an option with the season tickets for priority purchasing for that game by both teams. In this case, the game will be designated as a neutral site game.

• Sometimes a team’s large fan base could come into play. If a school moves its game to a larger arena or stadium still within its home city to accommodate for an anticipated larger crowd because of the opponent school’s large fan base within that city, the game could be counted as a neutral site game.

• For Division I men’s basketball starting with the 2007-08 season, consideration is given to who controlled the game tickets, who hired the referees and other game officials, the game’s inclusion on a season ticket package, and so on.

For purposes of attendance, some games considered home and away in the RPI may be switched to neutral site games, and vice versa.

It should be noted that these are guidelines, and the final say is with the committee. So we’ll really have to wait on their rulings on those games mentioned above and others.

My initial impression from reading the guidelines is that both of those RIT games in question are home games for the Tigers. As for the new Minnesota tournament, the Gophers have been cited as the tournament’s permanent host but when they played the Icebreaker in the same building in 2007 the games were listed as neutral.

When we get more definitive word from the committee, we’ll pass it along and make sure our schedules are correct.

North Dakota 2016 National ChampionsBNY Mellon Wealth Management