College hockey just got a lot less corporate. Bowling Green defenseman Ian Ruel was granted a release from Bowling Green, ending his college hockey career, and subsequently breaking my heart. Ruel said it was a personal decision to leave the program, and had nothing to do with the state of the team or the BGSU coaching staff. He was just ready to move on from hockey.
The Nick Bjugstad panic appears to be over for now. He told the Star-Tribune's Roman Augustoviz that he'll definitely be ready for Team USA's opening game against Denmark, which is a good sign. Apparently the injury happened on his first shift of the December 10th game against Michigan Tech, and he was able to play through it.
Last weekend, Denver beat St. Cloud in overtime 3-2 in overtime, thanks to three power play goals, including one scored on a five-minute major, and one on a penalty called at the end of regulation. After the game, St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko wasn't available for interviews because he was too busy having a long discussion with WCHA head of officiating Greg Sheppard.
Since there was no thrilling Timberwolves preseason basketball on Friday night, I got to watch the game. On the five-minute major, given to St. Cloud's Cam Reid for facemasking, it appeared to be the correct interpretation of an absolutely stupid rule. For whatever reason, the NCAA decided to get capital 'S' Serious about the scourge of face-washing during post-whistle scrums, even though all players are required to wear face masks and nobody has ever, ever gotten hurt from having a glove rubbed in their covered face. Meanwhile, the cameras caught a pretty clear horsecollar tackle by a Denver player in a post-whistle scrum later in the game that went uncalled. One of those plays is potentially very dangerous, while the other just makes old ladies faint in exasperation. The penalties for each should probably reflect that. I didn't get a great look at the double-minor that led to Denver's overtime winning goal, but with the sound no my TV off, I assumed the result of that scrum would be coincidental penalties, and was a little surprised when Denver started OT with the man advantage.
The next night, St. Cloud rebounded with a 5-1 win, with Nick Jensen scoring the first hat trick by an SCSU defenseman since Bret Hedican.
Lastly from that series, I hope that before whomever takes over as head of the NCHC goes around trying to convince national TV stations to cover their games, they first convince the their league's own local newspapers to cover their games.
It's being rumored that UConn has hired the strategic services of Stafford Sports, the consulting firm responsible for the NCHC Banner, brought, in the most literal sense, by Kinko's. The Huskies may be interested in moving into what looks like that vacant spot in Hockey East, and have hired Stafford to tell them that they need to build a bigger rink, and hand out the full allotment of scholarships for that to happen, which seems like the type of thing I could have told them, at half the cost. Connecticut is a huge public university that always seemed like a natural fit to be more than just the doormat they currently are. With big name powerhouses like Boston College and now Notre Dame in the league, it may be time for them to make that jump.
Also, if you're keeping score at home, the inability of Stafford Sports to help the NCHC land Notre Dame, may just be what got Connecticut interested in moving to Hockey East, and landed Stafford Sports their next gig at UConn. Sweet work if you can get it. I eagerly await the press release next year announce that to alleviate NCHC travel difficulties, they'll be overseeing the building of a Colorado Springs-to-Oxford-via-Duluth monorail.
With the NCAA's proposed $2000 stipend that could be added to scholarships dead for now, the small schools that killed it tried to come up with justifications for doing so that weren't "We want to keep our money for ourselves". The money quote comes from a guy that actually gets paid by the state of Tennessee as an educator:
It seems most dubious to give some student athletes what amounts to "tattoo money" at a time when far too many others are unable to put food on the table,...
1. Rich people just don't get why anyone would even need $2000. What does that buy? Like a cup of coffee? This guy and a hypothetical very rich OHL goaltender (Name redacted out of Team USA support and solidarity) should get together sometime.
2. Thank God the OSU football players gave him an out with the tattoos, because rap music and crack cocaine would have been way too on-the-nose and cliche.
In the end it's not a huge deal for college hockey. For better or worse, $2000 is a month or two worth of AAA hockey expenses for most of these kids growing up, not a month or two of total household income.
As far as tipping the scales between the NCAA and the CHL, it's a complete non-issue. Saint John just outbid the Houston Aeros of the AHL for a player. They laugh at your $2000.
Speaking of money, some parents in Minnesota are upset that Edina High School charged $50 for their team's tryouts this year. I bet the $50 fee is upsetting to the parents of any player who has ever tried out for a junior team, as well.
I hate to credit the enemy, but Team Canada let their own players develop their own team social media policy, which is not only simple, but also the most logical thing ever.