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UWS hockey to have games televised

For the first time, fans of Wisconsin-Superior hockey will be able to follow their teams on the tube this year. But they'll need either cable or digital TV to do so.

For the first time, fans of Wisconsin-Superior hockey will be able to follow their teams on the tube this year. But they'll need either cable or digital TV to do so.

The Northland's NewsCenter announced Tuesday that it will broadcast 13 men's and three women's hockey games this season on My 9, an affiliate station.

"It's exciting to be able to provide additional local sports programming to our market," said David Jensch, vice president and station manager of Northland's NewsCenter, a television cluster that includes KBJR-TV Channel 6 and KDLH-TV Channel 3.

He said much of the live production for the games will be handled by UWS staff and students, with assistance from the iFan Sports Network, a group that already streams live video from Yellowjacket hockey games on the Internet.

UWS and the Northland's NewsCenter have not yet determined who will provide play-by-play and color commentary for the games.

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"This is a big step for us," said Steve Nelson, UWS' athletic director. "It will provide increased visibility for a good program."

Nelson views the broadcast agreement as a reflection of the steady success Yellowjacket hockey teams have enjoyed in recent years. The Yellowjackets have appeared in nine NCAA men's Division III Frozen Four tournaments since 1992, including winning the national championship in 2002 by defeating Norwich 3-2 in overtime at Middlebury, Vt.In addition to assisting UWS' recruiting efforts, Nelson said the broadcasts will provide valuable opportunities for students to learn about television.

"It will give students production experience and workplace experience beyond the classroom," he said.

My 9 is a standard offering to cable television viewers with even the most basic cable packages. Jensch said that about 39 percent of Northland households subscribe to cable.

The UWS hockey broadcasts also will be available to people who have late-model television sets equipped to receive digital signals. Although there is no widely accepted means to track the size of the local digital market, Jensch said that when combined with cable, My 9's total penetration will likely approach about 50 percent of the Northland. In other words, about half of households in the region could tune in to Yellowjacket hockey, if they choose.

The Yellowjackets won't be alone on the tube: a minimum of 10 Minnesota Duluth men's hockey games will be televised by Charter Media of Duluth this season, starting Oct. 19-20 with a series against St. Cloud State at the DECC. That one-year deal was announced in the wake of WDIO-TV's decision not to broadcast UMD games this season after televising them for several years.

My 9 will air its first UWS hockey game of the season Nov. 2 when the Yellowjackets host St. Mary's.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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