The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

September 19, 2013

College hockey about to enter new era

ST. PAUL — The Big Ten is ready to take the ice.

The venerable conference built by storied football programs is about to start its first sanctioned hockey season.

"Big Ten anything is a big deal, no matter what sport it is, and it's an honor to be a part of such a prestigious league," said Penn State junior forward Tommy Olczyk.

Coaches and key players from all six teams assembled on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center, the site of the inaugural conference tournament from March 20-22. That event will alternate between St. Paul and Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in the coming years.

The Big Ten formation shook up the sport at the major college level, resulting in the creation of a second league (National Collegiate Hockey Conference), the dilution of one (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) and the extinction of another (Central Collegiate Hockey Association). But the coaches and players were naturally buzzing with excitement about the new setup, rather than lamenting the loss of some long-running conference rivalries.

"There is a little trepidation with some of the fans at times, but I do believe that they're going to see we're going to have at Minnesota the best of both worlds," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "We're part of the Big Ten. We'll continue to play our in-state rivals, a lot of our former rivals from the WCHA over time, and I think it's going to be a very successful move for us in our program."

Lucia added: "After a few years, it becomes the new norm. Fans start to see the way the conferences are, and all of a sudden, you don't know any different."

Michigan coach Red Berenson, who played for the Wolverines in the late 1950s when they were in the WCHA with the Gophers, recalled a fierce rivalry with the potential for a modern renewal.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
James Rodriguez Joins Real Madrid Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Morosi: Lee could be a tough sell Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits English Captain Steven Gerrard Retires From International Soccer - @TheBuzzeronFOX How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th 105-year-old woman throws first pitch A Stormtrooper and Chewbacca invade D-backs game Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Boomer: Lovie, Bucs to surpirse in 2014 British Open Round 2 in 60 Seconds Gasol: Money wasn't the priority The British Open in 60 Seconds Who SI's Michael Bamberger is Picking to Win at Royal Liverpool — And Why