The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 23, 2013

Hockey Notebook: WCHA aims to fit Alabama Huntsville in quickly

MANKATO — Alabama Huntsville currently isn’t on Minnesota State’s men’s hockey schedule for next year. But that could change now that the Chargers have been voted into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

“It’s being worked on as we speak at the league level,” MSU coach Mike Hastings said.

The hope coming out of last week’s WCHA meetings at the NCAA convention in Dallas is that league schedules can be adjusted to make Huntsville a full member right away next season.

“Not having them in next year as a full member is likely an option of last resort,” Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said.

The WCHA was set to play a 28-game league schedule next season among nine teams: MSU, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State, Ferris State and Bowling Green.

Hastings said he likes that Huntsville will round out a 10-team league and also that the WCHA’s decision ensures college hockey of having all of its 59 Division I teams with a conference affiliation going forward.

“We don’t have 120 Division I programs, and I think it’s good for the league to have a 10th team,” he said. “The schedule still needs to be worked out. But they needed a place to play, and I think it’s important in our sport to maintain and develop Division I programs throughout the country.”

Alabama Huntsville has been an independent program since the College Hockey America conference folded in 2010.

Mavs get commitment

Minnesota State last week received a verbal commitment from forward C.J. Franklin, a Forest Lake native and current United States Hockey League player for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Franklin, who is expected to play for the Mavericks starting in 2014, is the second Stampede player to commit to MSU recently, joining teammate Zeb Knutson.

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