WCHA Cancels All-Star Trip To Italy

The WCHA has canceled its August all-star tour of Italy, with concerns over security being a prime factor in the decision.

The league pulled the plug on the trip just over two weeks before it was to begin.

The U.S. State Department in March warned Americans traveling to Italy of threats of attacks from unidentified extremist groups in four Italian cities. One of them was Venice, where the WCHA team was scheduled to stay for the first two days of the trip.

“As coaches, players and staff, we have all really looked forward to this trip,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said in a statement. “But due to the degree of uncertainty we received in feedback from a number of official inquiries we made pertaining to the decision to go ahead, and keeping in mind the interests of our entire travel party, we really have no other choice at this time.”

A group of 23 players, three coaches and eight other league and team officials was scheduled to leave from Minneapolis on Aug. 10 and return on Aug. 19. A training camp was scheduled for Mariucci Arena on Aug. 8.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia was to be the team’s head coach, with North Dakota’s Dean Blais and Denver’s Steve Miller assisting.

“After a great deal of soulsearching, we came to this conclusion unanimously as a league and we are all supportive of this decision,” Lucia said. “It is unfortunate, but given the current situation, we all agree it’s the right thing to do at this point.”

The international trip would have been the third for the league. The WCHA sent all-star teams to Switzerland in 1998 and Norway in 2002.

There was no immediate word on whether the trip would be rescheduled or what kind of financial losses the league would suffer.