Much of the smoke has settled and now before the start of the Frozen Four it is a good time to take a look at the state of college hockey.
Conferences Build. Arrivals are plenty in the world of college hockey. As teams see their seasons end, the ranks of the New World of college hockey grows.
The Bi6 Ten has seen the most growth with all six teams now official members. The WCHA and NCHC are close behind. The transition will not be complete until Saint Cloud State loses and thus leave the WCHA for the NCHC. The Huskies play today in the Frozen Four.
Gone For Now. Departures have been more surprising in some cases.
Most surprising here is the release of George Gwozdecky as head coach from Denver.
Gwozdecky coach the Pioneers for 19 seasons including two national championships and at least 20 wins in each of the last 12 seasons. He remains the only college hockey coach to win a national championship as a player (Wisconsin 1977), an assistant coach (Michigan State 1986), and head coach (Denver 2004 and 2005).
Denver cited this is a good time to make a move leading into the transition into the NCHC. I think it would be an important time to keep a well respected and successful coach and recruiter. But here we are, with George Gwozdecky out of hockey for the time being.
Gwoz is one of the Miami University “Cradle of Coaches,” but he is most noted in the west as a coaching product from Wisconsin – River Falls, a Division III team 45 minutes east of the Twin Cities.
At one time three UWRF former coaches where head coaches in the WCHA, George Gwozdecky at Denver, Craig Dahl at Saint Cloud State, and Dean Talafous at Alaska – Anchorage.
I have called him the Mad Hatter of college hockey with his unorthodox methods at times with pulling goalies and sitting players. He always gave great interviews with real information when I talked to him. I certainly hope he can stay in the college hockey ranks.
Go, Go Gophers. Minnesota Twin Cities finished their season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament playing much like a group NHL free agents brought in to a team, a collection of talent who cannot click together. Now many of the big names have moved on to what they hope will be NHL careers.
Next season’s Gopher senior class will be small as current juniors Mark Alt, Nick Bujugstad, Zach Budish, Eric Haula, and Nate Schmidt have all left the program for pro contracts.
It may be a rough start to the Bi6 Ten for Lucia and company, but they usually have players to reload with when departures occur, but is this too much? It very well may be too big of a loss.
Dog Departs. Chris Casto, a two year starter on the blueline for UMD, has opted to forgo his remaining two years to go pro.
We wish the best to Chris who was likely signed for his size and potential as he did not light it up while at UMD. His first season was on a NCAA qualifying team where it was expected he learned the college game and could step up this past season. That wasn’t so much the case when his offensive numbers went down and his overall play in the UMD zone was hit and miss much of the time.