Monday, April 17, 2006

Husker Hockey?

Chris' Western College Hockey Blog today speculated on the potential of expanding college hockey. Annually on USCHO, the idea of a Big Ten hockey conference gets raised, raiding the WCHA for Minnesota and Wisconsin and the CCHA for Ohio State, Sparty, and the Weasels. Could this happen if Iowa or Penn State were to elevate their club programs to Division 1?

Outside of the Big Ten, Chris feels that a fertile ground for expansion of college hockey would be Lincoln, Nebraska and the Cornhuskers. And, on the surface, this makes perfect sense. Nebraska USHL teams in Kearney, Lincoln, and Omaha draw well. And let's face it, there isn't a Husker sport that doesn't have a decent fanbase. (Some people might consider men's basketball an exception, but history shows that hoops fans are likely just hibernating...)

Could the Huskers start a Division 1 hockey program? In the immediate future, the answer is no. The Memorial Stadium expansion project is going to eat up any and all resources for the forseeable future. But long term? I'd have to say the idea sounds very intriguing.

There are two existing roadblocks that immediately put Husker Hockey into the penalty box:
  • No Arena with ice
  • Title IX
However, Lincoln is already discussing a new arena to compete with the Qwest Center. And Title IX issues could be easily addressed by simply adding women's hockey.

Would Husker hockey steal fans from the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks? Perhaps some. However, Creighton certainly holds their own fanbase in sports; they even outdraw the Huskers in men's basketball. If anything, a Husker-Maverick rivalry might provide a natural rivalry for both programs and would attract new fans to both programs.

Personally, I don't see this happening for a little while longer. But deep down, I think this is a winning idea long term.

Update: Revisiting Husker Hockey.

1 comment:

Misopogon said...

I'd love to have Nebraska and their fans (who are generally regarded as awesome, ignoring your "weasel" remark above), join the ranks of college hockey.

Note that there has been some talk of Nebraska joining the Big Ten (academically, financially, 'duh'-ily, we'd much rather have you guys than Mizzou!) If that were to happen, there'd be as much talk about Nebraska elevating its hockey club to varsity, and using some of that Big Ten paycheck to take care of Title IX (we have awesome women's hockey too, by the way).

Imagine a 10-team Big Ten hockey conference of Miami (not that Miami), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota-TC, Nebraska-Omaha, Nebraska-Lincoln, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Wisconsin. With game broadcast regularly on BTN. Awesome, right?