By Brad E. Schlossman / Forum News Service, Published September 19 2013
UND men's hockey picked second in newly formed NCHC's first pollMINNEAPOLIS – The University of North Dakota men’s hockey team is entering an era of unknown in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Those who cover the league expect that not much will change.
UND was picked to finish second in a poll of the league’s media members released Thursday during the NCHC’s inaugural media day. Miami (Ohio) was voted No. 1.
“I would have picked Miami first,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said, “and on the second line, if I could have fit them all in, I would have put seven teams. That’s how I feel.”
The RedHawks, a power in the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association, earned seven of 16 first-place votes. North Dakota received five first-place votes. St. Cloud State, picked to finish third, received four first-place votes.
Denver was picked to finish fifth, followed by Minnesota-Duluth, Colorado College and Nebraska-Omaha.
The fact that Nebraska-Omaha – a team that could end up contending for the league title – was picked last showcases the depth of the first-year league.
“How you pick Nebraska-Omaha in that position, I don’t know,” Hakstol said. “But quite honestly, how you pick anyone else in that position, I don’t know.”
The NCHC and Big Ten leagues both held media days in the Twin Cities on Thursday, bringing every coach in the league and one player rep from each team. Senior Dillon Simpson was UND’s rep.
The NCHC held its media day at the Target Center, which will host its postseason tournament. The Big Ten held its media day at the Xcel Energy Center, which will host its postseason tournament every other year.
The NCHC’s regular-season trophy will be called the Spencer and Julie Penrose Cup.
The base of the Cup is a hexagon with space reserved for names of winners. Above, it’s a cup that looks similar to the MacNaughton Cup. It has the NCHC’s logo on it. The base will be removed when it is presented to the winner.
Spencer and Julie Penrose were strong supporters of college hockey in its early days.
The NCHC will unveil its postseason championship trophy at a later date.
The league also announced Thursday that the coach of the year award will be named after former St. Cloud State coach Herb Brooks, most notably the “Miracle on Ice” coach. Herb’s son, Dan, was on hand for the announcement.
Camp a success
NCHC officials held their inaugural officiating camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., earlier this month.
Director of officials Don Adam said that a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Academy taught vision training and a sports psychologist trained officials on maintaining concentration throughout the course of a game and a season.
“It went excellent,” Adam said. “It went every bit as well as we hoped it would. We had a variety of topics our officials haven’t seen before.”
Omaha coach Dean Blais said that Grand Forks native Alex Simonson has been reinstated to the team. Simonson, cited for disorderly conduct after a bar fight, has been cleared of all charges, Blais said. “He’s a good kid.” Blais said he will still be suspended for a couple of games for not informing him of the incident.
Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald