B1G dreams: Ranking the schools where we'd love to see Big Ten hockey

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B1G dreams: Ranking the schools where we'd love to see Big Ten hockey​

Alex Hickey
https://www.facebook.com/dialog/sha...schools-where-wed-love-to-see-big-ten-hockey/

Big Ten hockey is growing into a force in the sport.
This year, Big Ten teams made up half of the 8-team field playing in the regional finals, with Minnesota and Michigan advancing to the Frozen Four. The Gophers came up short in the title game, blowing a 2-0 lead and falling 3-2 to Quinnipiac in overtime.
Though there’s no title to bring home this year, Big Ten teams were knocking at the door at every level of the tournament.
Overall, it’s a sign of progress for a conference that has officially sponsored hockey for only a decade. Big Ten programs had previously been spread around the WCHA and CCHA for decades before the creation of Penn State’s program allowed Big Ten hockey to consolidate in 2013.
There’s just 1 problem with the conference: not enough teams.
Thanks to Notre Dame’s affiliate membership, the Big Ten has 7 hockey programs: Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and the Irish.
But nobody likes an odd number. Big Ten hockey needs an 8th. Or if enough wealthy alums pop up, 10 sounds pretty good.
As the Nittany Lions showed, it’s possible to start a program from scratch. You just need a really wealthy donor to be convinced of the cause.
Penn State’s program was made possible thanks to a facilities donation underwritten by a billionaire alum — Buffalo Sabres and Bills owner Terry Pegula.
And though there aren’t billionaires growing on trees, plenty of Big Ten schools have alums with far more money than they could possibly know what to do with.
So which Big Ten schools are most ripe for the addition of hockey?
In a world where we are spending other people’s money, this is the order in which we think it could work.

1. Rutgers​

Rutgers is never going to be a football power. Perhaps not even a football factor. Not even the headstart of playing in the first college football game has ever helped the Scarlet Knights in that regard.
But Rutgers hockey? That feels like it could build into something if it ever came into being.
There are 29 players from New York and 13 players from New Jersey in the NHL. Throw in the Philadelphia area, and Rutgers could put together a solid program without ever leaving its own footprint.
Jersey Mike’s Arena is 1 of the most raucous atmospheres in the Big Ten. It’s not a stretch to think a Rutgers hockey arena could create a similar feel.
As for where to get the money?
John Mellencamp once ponied up for Indiana’s indoor practice facility. Now it’s time for Jersey’s roots rocker to answer the call: Bruce Springsteen Ice Center. To be nicknamed, of course, The Boss.

2. Nebraska​

Omaha has a good hockey culture, including a program at Nebraska-Omaha, where current Cornhuskers AD Trev Alberts was formerly the athletic director.
Lincoln is not devoid of a hockey culture, either. The Lincoln Stars have played in the junior USHL since 1996 — which also takes care of the need for an arena.
In theory, at least, the elements are in place that would make Cornhusker hockey a successful venture: an AD who has familiarity with college hockey, and available facilities.

3. Northwestern​

Chicago has a good enough hockey culture to support both the Blackhawks and the AHL Wolves, so there should be enough appetite for a Division I college program as well. UIC sponsored a program from 1982-96, but the Flames weren’t very good. And UIC doesn’t exactly have the alumni reach (or pockets) of Northwestern.
Being a small, private university with selective enrollment is a challenge in many sports, but hockey is among the exceptions.
Yale won the national title in 2013 — more recently than any Big Ten program. Cornell was ranked No. 1 in the country when the 2020 NCAA Tournament was cancelled.
Northwestern fits the profile of a school that could make hockey work. To get off the ground, hit up alum Stephen Colbert, who once sponsored the U.S. Speedskating team.

4. Iowa​

Iowa City — well, neighboring Coralville — already has an ECHL team at Xstream Arena, which also serves as the home for the Hawkeyes volleyball program. Facilities are the biggest piece of the puzzle, and they are already in place.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are Iowa’s chief rivals across all sports, and both are well-established traditional hockey powers. Learning to hate the Gophers and Badgers in a new sport wouldn’t be too tough for Hawkeye fans to get on board with even if they’re somewhat new to hockey.
A potential challenge for Iowa hockey in gaining a foothold? The popularity of Iowa wrestling during the same season.
Hockey would be behind wrestling and both men’s and women’s basketball in the winter pecking order. But Penn State has popular programs in both wrestling and hockey, so such a feat is not impossible. (Although both squeeze out Penn State basketball, so perhaps inevitably a sport must lose here.)

Where hockey wouldn’t work​

1. Illinois​

You’d expect Illinois would top the list of schools where hockey would be a runaway success. Champaign is smack dab between 2 traditional NHL markets in Chicago and St. Louis and not far from a strong minor league hockey culture in Peoria.
And the brass at Illinois figured the same thing, conducting a 5-year study into the feasibility of adding hockey.
Alas, as of last May, Illinois AD Josh Whitman pulled the plug on the project, which was deemed too expensive.

2. Indiana and Purdue​

In 49 states basketball is just basketball, but this is Indiana.
Which is a problem for hockey.
While it’s unlikely to work in Bloomington or West Lafayette, perhaps hockey would be feasible at Purdue-Fort Wayne. The school formerly known as IPFW wouldn’t be a Big Ten program, but Fort Wayne has supported the minor league Komets in various forms over the past 70 years.
Mastodons hockey could compete with the likes of Western Michigan and Miami (Ohio) in the NCHC, but only if a wealthy enough benefactor made it possible.

3. Maryland​

If you handed a Marylander a hockey stick, they’d stare in confusion. How are you supposed to carry a lacrosse ball when there’s no net on the end of the stick?

4. USC and UCLA​

You might be thinking “Well, Los Angeles can support 2 NHL teams…”
But if USC and UCLA had the funding to embark on such a project, they wouldn’t need to be running to the Big Ten right now.

 



None of them really excite me, so whatever. I couldn’t help but laugh at Illinois though.
 

Lol this list is awful. I think the world is a better place with as few Rutgers teams as possible. Nebraska-Omaha already has a team, and I don't see that state producing enough talent, or recruiting well enough, to support 2 D1 teams. Iowa has great junior hockey, but if I were a recruit I'd probably pick one of the 6 teams in the US hockey mecca directly north of me.

I think the clear cut #1 for me would be Northwestern. There is so much talent playing AAA in Chicago, and I imagine Northwestern could retain a few upper echelon kids. They currently carry 8 men's teams and 11 women's teams. Not sure where that puts them for total scholarships for each, but I would think they might be able to work a hockey team in that's compliant with title 9. I could see them being comparable to a program like Notre Dame if they invested their time and resources well.

I think a sleeper would be UCLA. Hockey is growing fast out west. AAA teams like the Jr. Kings and Jr. Ducks are regularly churning out D1 Talent. UCLA doesn't have as favorable of a title 9 situation as Northwestern, but they do carry more women's sports than mens. They'd probably have to add women's hockey as well to offset scholarships. I think beautiful weather, strong academics, and a student body of 45,000 would be enough to draw in recruits.

Illinois seems to be in hockey no man's land. Purdue and Indiana would have to compete with Notre Dame in state, and the Michigan schools directly north. Maryland would have to carve out a niche in an east coast landscape that's already oversaturated with teams. USC could have the same opportunity as UCLA, but it seems like their club program isn't as strong as UCLA's.
 


I made it to "1. Rutgers" and stopped.
Northwestern is the clear #1. No reason for NW not to add hockey programs. I do think Rutgers would be top three, IHMO. It could definitely put together a nice roster recruiting in the NE, and be a middle of the pack B1G team, like 5-7 in a 10 team conference. There are a lot of players in NY/NJ. The reasoning the author makes for UCLA/USC is pretty laughable. I would love to see them develop programs. Definite road trip material, and I could see the conference do something like schedule back to back weekend road series there. Illinois is just a head scratcher for me...seems like a no-brainer to add teams.
 

Lol this list is awful. I think the world is a better place with as few Rutgers teams as possible. Nebraska-Omaha already has a team, and I don't see that state producing enough talent, or recruiting well enough, to support 2 D1 teams. Iowa has great junior hockey, but if I were a recruit I'd probably pick one of the 6 teams in the US hockey mecca directly north of me.

I think the clear cut #1 for me would be Northwestern. There is so much talent playing AAA in Chicago, and I imagine Northwestern could retain a few upper echelon kids. They currently carry 8 men's teams and 11 women's teams. Not sure where that puts them for total scholarships for each, but I would think they might be able to work a hockey team in that's compliant with title 9. I could see them being comparable to a program like Notre Dame if they invested their time and resources well.

I think a sleeper would be UCLA. Hockey is growing fast out west. AAA teams like the Jr. Kings and Jr. Ducks are regularly churning out D1 Talent. UCLA doesn't have as favorable of a title 9 situation as Northwestern, but they do carry more women's sports than mens. They'd probably have to add women's hockey as well to offset scholarships. I think beautiful weather, strong academics, and a student body of 45,000 would be enough to draw in recruits.

Illinois seems to be in hockey no man's land. Purdue and Indiana would have to compete with Notre Dame in state, and the Michigan schools directly north. Maryland would have to carve out a niche in an east coast landscape that's already oversaturated with teams. USC could have the same opportunity as UCLA, but it seems like their club program isn't as strong as UCLA's.
I don't think there would be any title 9 concerns if the schools just added mens and womens teams.
 

I don't think there would be any title 9 concerns if the schools just added mens and womens teams.
Completely agreed. 2 teams just means twice the cost and administrative work. Probably easier to add one or the other if possible.

Is the girls game growing enough to need more programs? I have very little knowledge on the Women's side of things.
 

Northwestern is the clear #1. No reason for NW not to add hockey programs. I do think Rutgers would be top three, IHMO. It could definitely put together a nice roster recruiting in the NE, and be a middle of the pack B1G team, like 5-7 in a 10 team conference. There are a lot of players in NY/NJ. The reasoning the author makes for UCLA/USC is pretty laughable. I would love to see them develop programs. Definite road trip material, and I could see the conference do something like schedule back to back weekend road series there. Illinois is just a head scratcher for me...seems like a no-brainer to add teams.
Definitely agree that there is enough talent out there to field a team. I just worry that there are too many teams in NY/NJ already for Rutgers to make a splash. By my count there are 12 D1 teams between NY and NJ.
 



Due to the fact that the Big 10 doesn't have the right "schools" to grow in hockey. They should simply add a couple WCHA or whatever conference schools to join the Big 10. If you're not going to do that. Then kick ND out and go back to 6 if you're looking for a even number. 6 isn't very many though for a conference. Need to do something.
 

Completely agreed. 2 teams just means twice the cost and administrative work. Probably easier to add one or the other if possible.

Is the girls game growing enough to need more programs? I have very little knowledge on the Women's side of things.
Are you agreeing or not? No way it would be twice the cost or administration.
 

You know what teams the B1G could add to increase its stature!

Most of them are not in the B1G!

Top teams to add:
1. North Dakota
2. UMD
3. St Cloud
4. Mankato
5. Michigan Tech
6. Denver

If Norte Dame can only play hockey in the B1G then there is no reason any of these schools can’t join just for hockey as well.

Maybe the Gophers wouldn’t want the recruiting competition of all the MN schools but it isn’t going to make it much worse.

If you wanted to just get to ten teams for schedule purposes you could just add Denver, UMD, and North Dakota and have by far the most dominant hockey conference in the NCAA.

Plus, add back those great rivalries we all miss!

Please don’t mention Illinois and Iowa again.
 

Are you agreeing or not? No way it would be twice the cost or administration.
I agree with your point about title nine not being an issue if both men's and women's were added. I still think the cost and administration would be more for two teams compared to one.
 



I agree with your point about title nine not being an issue if both men's and women's were added. I still think the cost and administration would be more for two teams compared to one.
Well, sure, but that amount would be incremental (not wice the expense) for salaries, equipment and scholarships. It's the most logical approach if there is a Title IX concern.
 

Well, sure, but that amount would be incremental (not wice the expense) for salaries, equipment and scholarships. It's the most logical approach if there is a Title IX concern.
fair enough
 

You know what teams the B1G could add to increase its stature!

Most of them are not in the B1G!

Top teams to add:
1. North Dakota
2. UMD
3. St Cloud
4. Mankato
5. Michigan Tech
6. Denver

If Norte Dame can only play hockey in the B1G then there is no reason any of these schools can’t join just for hockey as well.

Maybe the Gophers wouldn’t want the recruiting competition of all the MN schools but it isn’t going to make it much worse.

If you wanted to just get to ten teams for schedule purposes you could just add Denver, UMD, and North Dakota and have by far the most dominant hockey conference in the NCAA.

Plus, add back those great rivalries we all miss!

Please don’t mention Illinois and Iowa again.
Stop, this isn't going to happen. The B1G has no incentive to add these schools.
 

Duluth would be a fine add as the 8th team.
 

The potential to add Washington, Oregon, UCLA, or USC to Big Ten hockey does zero for me. More opponents you have to fly to (basically no one will) and that won't bring any fans to Mariucci to make it a more intense game.

UMD is still the best choice for the 8th team.
 

North Dakota generally produces the best games with the most bad blood so they're atop any list for me personally. Now we just need to squeeze them into the Big Ten. 🙂
 

I'm bias, I live in Seattle now, so Washington and Oregon adding hockey would mean I could see more Gopher Hockey games in person.

With how crazy Seattle has gone for the Kraken, I think Washington would have a strong fan base off the bat. They actually currently have a hockey team, but it's non-varsity DII. It has, apparently, existed since 1920 though.
 

I'd take UMD over North Dakota any day. Support the Minnesota schools, Duluth is a fun place to visit, whereas North Dakota is boring as heck.
 




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