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Abortion Debate, College Hockey Recruiting Debate Unexpectedly Collide

22 September 2017

With the recent commitment to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities by the 13 and 14 year old Lucius brothers (whose parents founded a school that revolves around hockey and employs more staff in its athletic department than it does teachers), the men’s college hockey world was once again abuzz with the question “How young is too young to recruit?”

tUMD men’s hockey head coach Scott Sandelin went on the record in a recent Pioneer Press article regarding this question, stating he hopes the process will slow down “so seventh and eighth graders aren’t committing to college,” expertly setting the bar just below his recent recruiting coup, obtaining verbal commitments from brothers Joey and Mikey Anderson just shy of their 15th birthdays.

Bulldog men’s hockey vox Bruce Ciskie was also quick to set apart the Andersons’ commitment from other recent young commitments. “They were both playing varsity high school hockey when they announced, not […] Bantam hockey,” Ciskie stated in a recent off-the-record conversation with this publication. “I’m not running around the country going to those bantam tournaments, I can tell you that,” Sandelin told Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press, who wrote the only bantam tournaments Sandelin attended were those of his own son, Hermantown hockey standout and Minnesota State-Mankato commit Ryan. Cleverly, Sandelin did not reveal whether his assistant coaches were attending bantam tournaments, nor did he acknowledge that his son’s bantam tournaments likely included Bulldog prospect Cole Koepke and incoming freshman Dylan Samberg.

Eager to repeat Sandelin’s recruiting success, college hockey coaches have been recruiting younger and younger. In addition to the Gentry Hockey Factory Academy duo, North Dakota has a pair of 2002 birth year commitments, as does Miami. 2017 and 2018 Men’s D1 National Champion Denver University, once famous for its “25 year old Canadian” recruiting strategy, appears to be on board with the new “15 year old American” trend, with three of its own 2002 birth year commits. UMTC’s in-conference rival, Wisconsin, counts 5 2002s among its 31 recruits. Yes, 31.

The have-nots of college hockey are struggling to compete, and resorting to more extreme measures. The “how young is too young?” question collided with the nation’s bitter debate over a woman’s right to bodily autonomy when newly-appointed Northern Michigan University head coach Grant Potulny recently attempted to receive a commitment from the 10 week, 4 day old embryo of a prominent, unnamed NHL player, citing the “elite DNA” of the parents. “I had noticed other college coaches lurking around [redacted]’s wife, and realized I couldn’t wait until the end of the first trimester to sign this kid.” Potulny also mentioned he reserved the right to rescind the scholarship offer after the ultrasound, should the future fetus turn out to be female.

This prompted abortion activists from both the forced-birth and bodily autonomy sides of the debate to wade in to the college hockey recruitment arena, unexpected territory for both. A spokesperson for NARAL commented on the potential commitment, stating “an embryo is not a person, and therefore does not have the agency to commit to a college hockey team. However, the pregnant woman does have every right to make the best decision she can; if that means committing a future child, whether this embryo or another, to Northern Michigan University’s men’s hockey team, we support her decision.” The spokesperson for the anti-choice group Focus on the Family clutched her pearls and said “Won’t somebody please think of the children??? Of course this child’s commitment to hockey should be honored! This precious baby is destined by God to have a blessed career at Northern Michigan University! How dare anyone try to take that away from them?”

Joe Shawhan, head coach of Northern Michigan’s rival, Michigan Tech, scoffed at Potulny’s recruiting strategy. “It’s preposterous,” Shawhan said. “I refuse to recruit that way, even if it means we lose out on some potential stars. I draw the line at fetal viability.”

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Survey Says?

18 July 2017

The NCAA wants you to help them fix their crappy social media account for hockey. Which, first of all, no. Pay me money and I will consult for you. But second of all, yes, I can’t help myself.

Look, you could fix your terrible twitter account by 1. changing the name to reflect that you only cover men’s D1 hockey or 2. cover women’s hockey and men’s D3 hockey with some actual effort.

Apologies to D3 men right now, you’re not really my wheelhouse and there’s just no way I can provide as passionate a post sticking up for what you fellows do. However, guess what, you’re mostly white men who have played a college sport so your life is likely to turn out great.

I mean, this garbage has to stop. I’m not interested in hearing the NCAA whine about how women’s hockey doesn’t pull in ratings and money. Of course it doesn’t, when you can’t even bother to use free social media platforms and exploit free labor from eager young sports management and/or communications majors who don’t yet know to demand pay for their work.

Indeed.

Sportswriter Nicole Haase provided myriad examples of how the NCAA fails from the get-go to promote women’s hockey. When you look through the list of concrete, documented examples Nicole gives, it’s pretty easy to apply Occam’s Razor and conclude the NCAA actually does not want anyone to watch women’s hockey. If you don’t promote it or provide access to it, then it’s very easy to say no one watches it! What other conclusion can one come to, looking at the evidence:

  1. Women’s stats, milestones, and achievements are almost never celebrated. All players of the week, stars of the week, plays of the week, whatevers of the week are men’s D1 players. Men’s hat tricks are celebrated, women’s hat tricks are ignored. (Some men’s D1 player got a hat trick which was touted as the first of the season last year, even though Ashleigh Brykaliuk had already notched one, as had some other women I don’t care about as much.)
  2. Men’s D1 hockey alumni in the pros are highlighted on the account. Meanwhile, I am not sure they are aware that there’s pro women’s hockey anywhere in the world, let alone that NCAA alumnae are tearing up those leagues.
  3. The NCAA tweeted twice about the women’s D1 national championship game on the day of the event. It was televised live for the first time, so you’d think they would want to promote it and get their money’s worth. Apparently not. I’m not sure because I was busy having panic attacks, but I believe the NCAA tweeted twice per second about the men’s D1 national championship game on gameday. Was there a women’s D3 national championship game? Who knows?
  4. The NCAA doesn’t even have someone who is dedicated to women’s hockey social media coverage. Not even a chimpanzee banging away at a keyboard receiving bananas as payment. (Well, roughly 65% of a banana after taxes.)

I took the survey (which initially did not have a comment box, so of course they couldn’t actually find out what people wanted or didn’t want).

Survey1

Well, none of those things really describe me. Where is the checkbox for deranged blogger and berater of refs?

I also would like to check “None of the above” for why I follow the NCAA Ice Hockey “channels.” Channels? Do you mean accounts? I do not understand. And like I said, none really apply. I don’t “discuss” hockey with other fans via the NCAA’s Twitter account. I discuss it with fans on my own account. And also by screaming at people in the stands. The account doesn’t show anything I can’t see on TV. The account doesn’t promote my favorite teams; in fact, it seems to almost exclusively promote teams I don’t like. I guess there was that whole men’s hockey playing in the national championship game that they covered.

There’s just no way I could in good conscience check “To keep up with all things hockey.” That would imply that the NCAA’s social media platforms keep up with all things hockey, when they actually keep up with a couple things hockey. Even if that is my intent when following it, there’s no way to indicate that they are not living up to my expectations.

Naturally I checked “I consider myself very knowledgeable about college hockey in general.” However, there’s no acknowledgement that people could be fans of multiple teams. Like, say, a men’s and women’s program at their school. Or a D1 program and a D3 program. I don’t think that’s actually covered under “knowledgeable about a few teams.” Or perhaps I am being overly nitpicky? That would be a first.

Survey2

Again, this focuses on things that I like, rather than how well they are doing at providing me with this content. As Weldie pointed out, “off the field” is not a thing in hockey. Well, not in ice hockey. Perhaps this was the field hockey survey?

Speaking of broken records, I don’t care if I sound like one on this topic.

If anyone answered “yes” to that second question, I want to know what other accounts you’re following. Maybe you’re just following Goon, Bruce Ciskie, and that account that pretends to be about college hockey and then tweets alt-right nonsense (no, the other one, this isn’t mentioning Goon twice). In the case, yes, the NCAA is the best account you follow. Well maybe second best bc Bruce sometimes retweets me.

I chose “never” in regard to clicking on links. It’s the closest to “once in a blue moon” that I could get.

Survey3

Whoa whoa whoa, NCAA. You are in no way in danger of producing too much content. You are actually producing not enough content. That is the whole freaking problem.

mrburnscampaign

I don’t think the comment box was there in the original survey. I can’t say this for sure, but based on 1. a tweet from Weldie and 2. me not taking the survey initially, I can say this with a 99% confidence level. I know that this is not actually what a confidence level means, but statistics is a made up pseudo-science.

I’ll leave you with the 3 words I wrote in the comment box, the most important thing they could do to improve their social media, their coverage of the sport, and their adherence to the NCAA’s mission of inclusivity:

COVER WOMEN’S HOCKEY.

College Hockey to Experiment With New Predetermined Season

11 July 2017

In June, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee met in Indianapolis to discuss potential rules changes for the upcoming season. Among the topics discussed were: options for overtime, the definition of offsides, and respect. It is only natural that the topics of overtime and offsides would be discussed at the committee meeting, as Actual National Champion* North Dakota was affected significantly by both items. The topic of respect was entered into the minutes by mistake, as the members of the Rules Committee were discussing their night of drunken debauchery on the NCAA’s dime the previous evening, when committee member and Hockey East Association commissioner Joseph D. Bertagna performed Aretha Franklin’s iconic song “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” at an Indianapolis karaoke establishment.

One topic that received unanimous support amongst committee members, coaching staff, and journalists alike, was the opportunity to experiment with a predetermined season outcome.

“So many fans come into the season with anxiety or stress over their team’s chances at a national championship,” said Bill Riga, committee member and associate head coach of Quinnipiac University’s men’s team. “With this proposed format, fans will know coming into the season whether or not their team will win a national championship, and can attend games without worrying if an injury or a defensive mistake will ruin their team’s chances at a title.”

The expenses associated with travel will also be reduced, as teams and fans will be able to book flights in advance.

“I know it will ease my mind and the minds of all of Beaver Nation, to know for sure we won’t need to book last-minute flights to the Frozen Four, or to secure ice time and other logistics for a home play-off game,” said Amber Fryklund, assistant coach for Bemidji State University’s women’s program.

“While in past seasons we were 99.999999% certain we would not host or even play in the NCAA tournament, adding that extra 0.000001% has given us peace of mind,” Ms. Fryklund added.

In accordance with protocol and rules committee tradition, the new format will be used on a trial basis in the 2017-18 season, with Men’s Division I adopting the predetermined season. The committee, with input from neutral sources such as D. Goddard Hockey Consulting, Ltd., industry publication Let’s Go DU, and the nonpartisan think tank Puck Swami Institute, has selected the University of Denver as the first predetermined national champion.

“We looked at a variety of factors, including number of returning players across teams, hyperbolic blog posts and tweets from select media, and [Denver head coach] Jim Montgomery’s ability to come within six when I said I was thinking of a number between one and a hundred,” Mr. Bertagna said. It was reported that the number was 63, and Mr. Montgomery selected 57, for undetermined reasons. Among other coaches asked to come up with a number, 2017 runner-up Minnesota Duluth’s Scott Sandelin selected 2, and Actual National Champion North Dakota head coach Brad Berry stared into the distance picking his nose before finally prompted to respond “Eleventy?”

If this format proves successful, look to see it expand across all divisions of NCAA ice hockey in 2018-19.

*70 years running!

Hockey Day Minnesota Duluth!

6 July 2017

Let me interrupt my extended period of not giving a crap about hockey to discuss the EXCITING news from yesterday: tUMD will be playing the first ever marquee matchup between women’s teams on Hockey Day Minnesota.

IT’S ABOUT FRICKIN-FRACKIN TIME.

Ahem.

St. Cloud State is the host this year, and they have chosen to feature a non-conference (edit: upon closer inspection, this appears to be a conference game, as now I can’t remember where I read it was noncon [another edit, now I remember, our freaking coach said it was nonconference, wtf is going on]), outdoor matchup with tUMD as one of the main events (along with 2 boys’ games, a men’s game featuring SCSU and Mankato, and the requisite Wild game). I am considering attending. The game is at 1:00, so it would be an easy day trip. We’ll see what the weather is like.

I’m not going to give headpats to the HDM folks for finally figuring out, after 12 years of this crap, that women’s hockey matters, and that there’s really no excuse for excluding women’s college hockey from the event when two of the most prominent programs in the nation are in the state. I’m not interested in the blah blah blah ratings blah blah blah no one likes women’s sports oink oink oink nonsense people like to spew at me, because let’s be real, most of the crap they show during HDM is really boring. It’s like, some dull outdoor HS boys’ game, three hours of Former Gophers: Where Are They Now?, a Gopher men’s hockey game against an out of state opponent, and then a Nate Prosser celebration. The most interesting thing ever to be shown on HDM was Mike Sertich’s Gopher toilet. So, no thank you, I am not interested in mansplaining about ratings! and advertising! and catering exclusively to men!

The second most hilarious thing about the HDM lineup is the closest thing to a “metro” team is Centennial. Generally I mock this event as “Hockey Day Twin Cities” due to its extreme metro slant. I’m really appreciative of this troll job by SCSU. Ugh. Between their significantly improved fanbase (or maybe they just seem improved because I don’t go on USCHO anymore), Katie Fitzgerald’s awesome pro career, and now this brilliant moment of “outstate” rebellion, I’m almost not boiling over in hatred for them.

The MOST hilarious thing about the HDM lineup is the lack of vermin. We got a blazing hot take on that from The Daily Gopher today.

tdg1

First of all, it’s “a part,” not “apart.” Your stupid teams (yes, teams) will actually be apart from the event. As in not involved.

tdg2

Second of all, it’s “HUSKY.” And “women’s.” My eye is twitching from all these errors, not to mention opening a paragraph with “With St. Cloud being the host.”

tdg3

The world may never know why the Gophers were not begged to be a part of this event! Will the person at FSN who discovered the world does not revolve around Gopher men’s hockey be persecuted by the Roman Catholic Inquisition, a la Galileo? Is this bitterness by TDG staffers over yet another instance in which their mediocre men’s hockey team is subjugated by their mediocre pumpkin pushing team?

(This is the point in the post where I briefly flipped back to Twitter and saw that Adam Johnson signed with Pittsburgh and went into a rage blackout.)

I wonder how terrible the ice is going to be for that event. Will it be worse than the outdoor ice that Lucia always sobs about?

I’m actually surprised the Gophers didn’t pull out of HDM years ago, when Joel Rumpel played an entire game with an illegal piece of equipment!!! What if a puck had been saved by the pompom on his knitted hat? THAT IS THE REASON THE GOPHERS LOST TO UNION SEVERAL YEARS LATER!!!

tdg4

Oh no! An event which lost its (now this is the proper usage of its, unlike the example given in the snippet shown above) luster years ago is taking a significant step back by not catering exclusively to one of five men’s D-1 hockey programs in the state, after said program repeatedly played out-of-state opponents on HDM out of a fear of being upstaged by in-state rival tUMD?

This will probably be the end of HDM. If they’re including those darn women AND they don’t have any Gophers, they’re tarnishing the illustrious HDM brand irreparably!

Also, IT’S (see) A FACT that all hockey teams whose games are shown in more than one household bring in viewers. The minimum number of people required to constitute viewers is 2. So, um, congrats on having at least 2 people watching your stupid team. We have that too! Even in regular definition!

How did that game against Notre Dame work out for you fellas? I’m just curious. Oh wait I recall. I contributed to those high ratings because I was laughing my badonkadonk off.

In conclusion, I am confident that Hockey Day Minnesota will carry on much as it always has, even without The Highest Rated Hockey Team On The Big Ten Network. ESPECIALLY since it will include our very own Bulldog women capturing the first Main Event win for an NCAA women’s team.

All-RWD Honors, Cont’d

13 April 2017

To wrap up the All-RWD Honors team, I bring you the women’s team. The men’s team was announced yesterday. Congratulations to each of these women on this prestigious honor.

All-RWD First Team Honors:

F: Morgan Morse
F: Brooklyn Schugel
F: Ashleigh Brykaliuk
F: Sydney Brodt
F: Reagan Haley
F: Katherine McGovern
F: Lara Stalder
F: Demi Crossman
F: Maria Lindh
F: Michelle Lowenhielm
F: Katerina Mrazova

D: Lauren Niska
D: Sidney Morin
D: Catherine Daoust
D: Jalyn Elmes
D: Emma Yanko
D: Shelby Brossart
D: Lynn Astrup
D: Jessica Healey
D: Linnea Hedin

G: Catherine Johnson
G: Maddie Rooney

All-RWD Honors

12 April 2017

Since every last blog/media outlet/tabloid is putting out their all-whatever honors, I felt I needed to put out mine. I put a lot of thought into this, looked over all the players in the NCHC and in men’s NCAA D-1 college hockey, and after applying appropriate and objective criteria, here’s what the final list looked like:

All-RWD First Team Honors:

F: Adam Johnson
F: Kyle Osterberg
F: Avery Peterson
F: Joey Anderson
F: Alex Iafallo
F: Billy Exell
F: Blake Young
F: Dominic Toninato
F: Karson Kuhlman
F: Jared Thomas
F: Jade Miller
F: Riley Tufte
F: Sammy Squirrel
F: Parker Mackay

D: Dan Molenaar
D: Neal Pionk
D: Nick Wolff
D: Brendan Kotyk
D: Jarod Hilderman
D: Willie Raskob
D: Nick McCormack
D: Carson Soucy
D: Will Campion

G: Hunter Miska
G: Hunter Shepard
G: Nick Deery

Seasons of Love

11 April 2017

Four thousand eight hundred sixty seven minutes
Four thousand eight hundred sixty seven moments so dear
Four thousand eight hundred and sixty seven minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In goal lights, in road trips
In face-offs, in odd man rushes
In blocked shots, in saves
In laughter, in strife
In four thousand eight hundred and sixty seven minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love
Seasons of love
The season’s come and gone, finally. Not that I ever truly want the college hockey season to end, but the season began on September 30th, so we’ve had over six months of hockey. In 4867:09 officially (doesn’t include shootouts, 3×3, or exhibition), we’ve been through an emotional wringer.
It didn’t feel right to post about the women’s season coming to a close while the men’s season was still going. I was really down about how it ended, probably moreso than I am about what happened Saturday night. Maybe because it ended 1-0, and it just hurt to get shut out at home in the playoffs. I hate to go to games without getting to cheer a single goal for my team.
I didn’t know when I was going to get around to writing that final post about the women’s season, but it’s unfortunate that both teams ended up losing their final games, and I’m sad that it was prescient of me to wait.
But there was so much to enjoy about this hockey season. The women started off with a win and tie against BC (which proved to be HUGE for them in the PWR), the men started off with a sweep against MTU (also a huge PWR boost, especially since they faltered a bit against Bemidji with that yucky tie). Both teams overall came up big in non-conference play, which kept them in solid position for the playoffs all year long.
Both teams had HUGE wins, like the men’s 5-0 record against UND and the women’s home sweep of UMTC and 4-1 win against Wisconsin. Both teams had plenty of overtime games to scare us, and dramatic playoff victories, like the women’s 2-1 2OT win against UMTC in the Final Faceoff, and like oh… NEARLY EVERY PLAYOFF GAME THE MEN PLAYED.
More importantly, these players showed us they gave their hearts and minds to every game, and they carried themselves with grace and integrity on and off the ice. At times they made mistakes, or made us frustrated, but we never saw them quit. We saw Dom Toninato miss breakaways, and while he was frustrated, he kept shooting, kept on fighting for that next goal. We saw Lara Stalder step back to play defense and double-shift when the team needed her to, defying the limits of human cardiovascular efficiency, and still step up in 2OT to get that goal against the Goofs. We saw Maddie Rooney and Hunter Miska make save after save they had no business making, sometimes on an unbelievable play by the opponent, and sometimes to bail out one of their teammates.
We saw two teams leave it all on the ice. Who could ever be disappointed with a season like that?