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Eric Peterson, Published December 13 2011

Peterson: MSUM's hockey push nears its deadline

Moorhead - In this season of giving, Minnesota State Moorhead needs that spirit to prevail in the next few weeks if the school hopes to launch Division I ice hockey.

The Dragons drive for NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey – which started in the spring of 2009 – has hit a critical point.

MSUM hopes to have around $30 million in commitments by the new year, athletic director Doug Peters reiterated Tuesday. That would mean 80 percent of the overall $37 million goal needed to fund an endowment model business plan.

“We’ve found a lot of love for the idea and we’re just trying to convert some of that love into pledges,” Peters said.

This very well could be the final holiday season the Dragons have visions of hockey players dancing in their heads. The school’s goal remains to start a program for 2013-14.

For that to happen, MSUM needs to make a bold move now to help get to that $37 million mark in the next few months.

“If it doesn’t happen in the next few months, it very well could be the end of it,” Peters said.

Peters said Tuesday that MSUM has moved closer to the fundraising goal than it was a few months ago.

At the end of September, Peters told The Forum that the school had $15 million hockey-only commitments. That was the same figure the school had announced at a July news conference.

Now we know MSUM has more than $15 million, but Peters wouldn’t specify the new figure.

“I’m excited to say we have raised money and we have commitments above and beyond that,” Peters said. “We’ve raised more than $15 million and we still have more to raise.”

Peters, along with other hockey “team” members, plan to meet within the next week to assess where MSUM is at in its pursuit of hockey. Consultant and former University of North Dakota athletic director Carl Miller and MSUM’s Vice President of Finance and Administration Jan Mahoney will be part of that meeting, Peters said.

The 2013-14 season is an attractive start date for MSUM due a major shift scheduled for conference alignment.

That’s the season UND, Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and St. Cloud State are slated to leave the WCHA for the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference. In addition, Minnesota and Wisconsin are leaving the WCHA for the newly formed Big Ten hockey conference.

That means the WCHA could be looking to fortify its membership, possibly considering a start-up program.

That said, it’s all about the money right now. It’s a race to $37 million. So does MSUM need a Christmas miracle to make their hockey dreams come true?

“It has been very positive out there and we have been working pretty hard at it so I think ‘miracle’ is a pretty strong word,” Peters said. “We feel that we’re putting forth a winning effort.

“The longer that this goes on, the less likelihood that it will happen.”

That makes it even more important that MSUM cashes in on this season of giving.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com