NCAA considering men’s hockey recruiting changes today
The NCAA Division I Council started a two-day meeting Thursday in Indianapolis that could result in significant changes to recruiting in men’s hockey.
Two proposals are on the table that are aimed at delaying recruiting timelines and putting a dent in early recruiting.
Both proposals would ban contact between men’s hockey prospects and coaching staffs until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year. Currently, prospects are allowed to contact coaching staffs at any time, which has led to increasingly young recruiting.
Both proposals also would bar unofficial campus visits until Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year and ban official visits -- paid by the schools -- until Aug. 1 before the prospect’s junior year.
The slight difference between the two proposals is the timeline on when coaching staffs are able to offer prospects scholarships. One proposal says Aug. 1 prior to a prospect’s junior year. That is designed to give a prospect a seven-month window to get to know programs and coaching staffs before making a commitment.
The other proposal would allow colleges to offer scholarships on the same date that communication opens up: Jan. 1 of the prospect’s sophomore year. Some believe coaches will easily find loopholes around waiting until the Aug. 1 date.
According to an NCAA calendar, the Division I Council met from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central on Thursday and will meet from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday.
While the proposal would delay recruiting in many cases, it would also allow colleges to talk to prospects before the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League drafts. College hockey battles with the OHL and QMJHL for prospects. The Western Hockey League, the third league under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella, holds its draft a year earlier than the OHL and QMJHL, though.
College hockey teams have been rushing to get commitments in place before the potential changes.
UND recently received commitments from three 2004-born players from Greater Grand Forks -- Trey Ausmus of East Grand Forks, Jaksen Panzer of Grand Forks and Cole Spicer of Grand Forks.
Ausmus and Spicer are entering their sophomore years in the fall. So, if the legislation passes, they won’t be able to talk to the UND coaching staff for a few months. Panzer will be entering his freshman year in the fall.
Teams try to sneak in home bids
With a dwindling number of schools bidding to host NCAA regionals in the West and Midwest, some teams tried a new tactic this bidding cycle: They submitted bids to host regionals at their home venue.
Although the coaching body has overwhelmingly been against putting regionals at home sites, at least two schools submitted bids at their home venues in hopes that there aren’t enough neutral-site bids and the NCAA will have no other options.
Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that the Badgers submitted a bid to host at the Kohl Center. One source told the Herald that they believe that UND submitted a bid for Ralph Engelstad Arena for at least one of the next two years.
UND previously confirmed it had submitted bids for regionals but declined to say for which sites.
UND has earned regionals in four of the last five years, including each of the last two years, leading some to believe that there aren’t any other bidders out West.
The Midwest has been even more bleak. The NCAA had to put the last two Midwest Regionals in Allentown, Pa.
Since 2010, the NCAA regionals have been played at non-home venues with the exception of the 2015 Midwest Regional. That year, Notre Dame hosted it at its home of Compton Family Ice Arena, because there were no other bids in the Midwest (Notre Dame didn’t end up qualifying for that tournament, though).
Some schools, including UND under former athletic director Brian Faison, pushed to return regionals to campus sites. But there has been major pushback from the coaching body on that.
There will be at least one new bidder out West. Sources told the Herald that Denver submitted a bid to host in Loveland, Colo., at the home of the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles.
The Athletic’s Eric Vegoe, who also writes for Gopher Puck Live, reported that Minnesota opted not to submit a bid for the Xcel Energy Center. The Gophers have been busy hosting numerous other NCAA events recently, including the NCAA Final Four earlier this month.
That could be a detriment to Minnesota. Since the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2003, Minnesota has played in four regionals in the Twin Cities and seven outside the Twin Cities. The Gophers reached the Frozen Four in all four Twin Cities regionals (8-0) and failed to reach the Frozen Four in any of the seven outside the Cities (2-7).
Regional sites are expected to be announced by the end of the week.
IIHF World U18 tourney opens
The IIHF World Under-18 Tournament opened Thursday in Sweden.
Grand Forks native and UND commit Judd Caulfield is playing for Team USA, as is UND goalie commit Cameron Rowe. Caulfield is expected to come to UND in the fall. Rowe is expected to play one year of junior hockey before coming in the fall of 2020. Both are draft eligible in June.
All of the U.S. games will be broadcast on NHL Network.
The Americans beat Sweden 6-1 in the tournament’s opener. USA plays Slovakia at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Russia at 8:30 a.m. Sunday and Latvia at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Another Year of the Defenseman?
The 2018-19 season was the Year of the Defenseman in college hockey.
Six of the 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists were defensemen -- the most ever. All three Hobey Hat Trick finalist were defensemen. And Hobey winner Cale Makar of UMass was one point away from becoming the first defenseman to ever lead college hockey in scoring.
But the way things are shaping up, next year could be another Year of the Defenseman.
Highly touted free agents Colton Poolman of UND and Connor Mackey of MSU-Mankato already announced they were returning. On Wednesday, Denver standout blue liner Ian Mitchell, a second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, also announced he’s coming back to school.
Harvard star Adam Fox, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, has yet to sign and could still possibly come back, too.
Minnesota Duluth is awaiting decisions from Scott Perunovich, Mikey Anderson, Dylan Samberg and Nick Wolff. It is unlikely that all four leave, which would further stack next year’s pool of blue liners in college hockey.
An epic in the USHL
On Wednesday night, Sioux Falls and Sioux City played an epic four overtime game in the first round of the United States Hockey League playoffs.
Sioux Falls won it on a goal by Michigan commit Austen Swankler to clinch a series victory.
The game was four minutes shy of being the longest USHL game in history. That distinction belongs to Cedar Rapids and Lincoln, which played late into the fourth overtime.
Grand Forks native and former UND goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux was in the net for that one against former St. Cloud State goalie Bobby Goepfert.
NCAA Frozen Four participant Providence has lost two players to NHL deals in the span of two days. Junior forward Brandon Duhaime, who had 34 points in 42 games, signed with the Minnesota Wild. Junior forward Josh Wilkins, the team’s leading scorer with 46 points, signed with Nashville, according to New England Hockey Journal’s Jeff Cox.