Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WCHA, CCHA Meet Again; Trent Palm Signs Pro Deal

Greetings ... we're inside of six weeks until the UMD hockey season opens with an exhibition game, and less than a month away from the first trip to the rink to check out captain's practices.

It all seems to happen so quickly.

Anyway, 2013 brings a lot of change to the college hockey landscape, as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Big Ten begin play, and the WCHA and CCHA cease to exist as we know them now.

With 12 schools currently in limbo -- for the sake of argument, I'll include Western Michigan but not Notre Dame on that list -- there is more change coming to the sport. It's just a matter of time, and a matter of "what."

11 of the affected schools -- minus Alabama-Huntsville -- met in Chicago Tuesday. The remnants of the WCHA and CCHA are at least discussing the possibility of a merger. According to a WCHA press release, the schools had an agenda at the meeting "that included sharing information about each other, engaging in productive discussions about the challenges that each institution and each conference face, and seeking common ground to work together for the betterment of the parties involved and of college hockey in general."

In issuing a joint statement, WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod and CCHA Commissioner Fred Pletsch said, “This was an important and productive meeting, for all involved parties. We asked everyone in attendance to be open, honest and frank in discussing their concerns, hopes and visions for the future of their respective programs. We recognize that where there is change there is also opportunity. We plan to continue our discussions in the future and to continue to explore all options.

“One crucial thing that came out of the joint meeting today was the word ‘commitment’. All of these institutions are totally committed to fielding the most competitive and successful programs possible and to provide the best possible experience for their student-athletes.”

Topics discussed in the joint meeting agenda included sharing of institutional and hockey program information (including financial, facilities, community support, staffing and travel), scheduling and championship scenarios, and membership and league affiliation (including league size, automatic qualifiers, etc).

In attendance at the joint meeting were administrators from the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Northern Michigan University, St. Cloud State University and Western Michigan University.

Obviously (at least it's obvious if you read this blog regularly), my concern here is that UAH was not included in these talks. It worries me a lot, because there appears to be no movement afoot to get the Chargers in a league. Hopefully, this will change, because it benefits no one to see this program go away.

Outside of that, there is little here that is negative. The 11 schools (assuming Western Michigan isn't actually tied to Notre Dame in any way) would do well to form a league. Find a way to deal with the travel costs, and all 11 will probably find a way to sustain themselves going forward.


Former UMD defenseman Trent Palm has signed a deal with the Chicago Express of the East Coast Hockey League. The Express are in their first season. Palm played 123 games at UMD, including 28 as a fifth-year senior. Surgery for hip and abdominal problems forced Palm to take a medical redshirt for the 2009-2010 season.

He saw special-teams time, even played forward for a bit, and was paired with Drew Olson for most of the Bulldogs' run through the playoffs and NCAA Tournament last season.

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