Kelly: conversations continue with ‘four to six’ schools about college hockey expansion

Despite the impending loss of Alabama-Huntsville from the ranks of Division I hockey, College Hockey Inc. executive director Paul Kelly remains optimistic about the expansion of the sport.

Kelly, a guest on the Nov. 1 episode of USCHO Live!, said that he is continuing to speak with “four to six” schools about moving to D-I. Kelly would like to see a couple of new teams in the southeastern U.S., including a possible return of UAH to varsity status, and teams on the west coast. He also was encouraged that more Big 10 universities might be starting programs (including women’s teams) in areas in which the USHL has made hockey popular, including “Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska.”

In that same episode (available through the player on the right, via podcast, or at Kelly spoke about the efforts College Hockey Inc. has underway to promote the college game and spoke in favor of a proposal to raise the minimum draft age to 19 after the first round of the NHL draft. Kelly also answered questions about under-the-table payments from Major Junior teams to entice NCAA-committed players and spoke positively about the D-I conference commissioners’ commitment to the sport of D-I college hockey as a whole.

Also joining USCHO Live! was Michigan head coach Red Berenson. Berenson was emphatic that completing a college career is the best road for players unless they are ready to go straight to the NHL, giving an example of a player leaving early only to spend two or three years in the minors while another player who finished his college eligibility might get to the NHL first. Berenson also talked about the Rudy-like story of goaltender Shawn Hunwick and the early success of his former assistant and now Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson.

Each episode of USCHO Live! airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET and is available for download or podcast. USCHO Live! is hosted by senior writers Jim Connelly and Ed Trefzger. Updates on the program and its schedule are found at