Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My B1G Thought

By Jessi Pierce

***Editor's note: I am admitting my homer status as a Minnesota fan upfront to kick things off in this post, based entirely on my personal opinions.

Little more than a year ago, I echoed the sentiments of that weary Minnesota fan in the above video.

I'll be honest, I despised the idea of a Big Ten hockey conference from the first moment I had heard about it. A loyal WCHAer, I was fuming over the thought of losing the passion in the rivalries that the Gophers had established in the course of 61 years in the WCHA and the idea of losing some phenomenal conference competition. Just all around unhappy, not unlike many of the fans out there that I have spoken to and heard from.

Now for the cooling down process.

Once I set my own personal gripes with the conference aside, I began to think on a broader level of what exactly this meant for college hockey as a whole. On that basis, I see the impact of a Big Ten hockey conference having amazing potential to truly help the sport that fans love.

As I mentioned in one of my first posts on this blog, with a Big Ten hockey conference comes the synonymous Big Ten name and like it or not, it's more widely known than the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Central Collegiate Hockey Association to people outside of the hockey realm. What a great way to expand and invite Big Ten — especially Penn State — fans to the game of hockey.

With the Big Ten name also comes the big bucks. With the financial backing of the Big Ten and Big Ten Network, it's golden for every single one of these programs. The Big Ten Network will guarantee fantastic media coverage throughout the entire season. Admit it, that's exciting stuff.

The biggest argument that goes against the Big Ten would be in the loss of rivalries, a legit concern that as you read even I had, especially when you consider the tickets sales for those games are great for both the bigger schools and the smaller ones alike when that competition comes around each season. It was announced a few months ago by Gopher Head Coach Don Lucia that a deal has been worked out that will include all Minnesota teams (St. Cloud, Duluth, Mankato and Bemidji) guaranteed match-ups with the Gophers throughout the season as well as the famed North Dakota rivalry. I imagine similar schedules will be worked out for the other schools that have set their own rivalry traditions because with only six teams playing two series' a season, there is plenty of room for outside competition.

That of course begs the argument that, "it won't be the same when we play those teams," but won't it? It will still be about the bragging rights and will still effect the record on the season as a whole, so why treat those games as though it's not as important now that it's non-conference. As a Cyclone, I know first hand how much Iowa State still loves to beat Iowa despite being in two different conferences and it is still considered one of the biggest games of the season. I see no reason why non-conference games that hold the same intense rivalry for the hockey teams will be treated any differently.

Another interesting point to note is that the Gophers are one of the founding members of the now dominant WCHA. What better team to be one of the stronger building blocks of the Big Ten hockey conference? Add in storied programs Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State and a solid base is laid for what is going to be a very promising program. And of course none of this is to discredit Penn State or Ohio State, both schools are equally as well known for athletics on a national level and with the addition of another sport, especially against some of the best competition in college hockey in the aforementioned schools, it's a win for them, too.

But love it or hate it, with the 2013-14 season comes the Big Ten and really the fans can help make it or break it. Why not try to shine some of the positives and see what in fact it could bring. It's not the first conference realignment and it's sure to not be the last and I am excited to see what might happen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We asked, you answered... (well a few of you)

 So we know that yes, not everyone is the biggest fan of the latest Big Ten hockey conference, and that's alright. But we thought it'd be nice for you to explain in your own words what you think about it. Like it, hate it or absolutely love it, we asked for it and you answered...well three of you did anyway. Big shoutout to Tony, Kyle and Reed for sharing your input on the upcoming conference. Here's what they said and your opinions are always welcome!


Going to be honest - Not a fan of the Big Ten hockey conference. The only plus is more TV coverage with Big Ten Network.

Now for the negatives...
1. Being a Michigan hockey season ticket holder I enjoyed seeing teams like Notre Dame, Miami, Western, etc coming to Yost. The new conference has spiraled the college hockey world out of control. What made college hockey special was big schools competing closely with little schools. How will non-conference scheduling work?
2. I don't think a 6 team conference it really "legit". Two perfectly good conferences were destroyed (with the CCHA dying completely). How many times will we be playing the same teams over and over again? At least with the CCHA we had 10 more teams to play...with Big Ten we only have 5. As much as I hate MSU, playing them so many time gets boring.
3. Where will the championship be played? Will it move around? WIll it always be at Xcel? Since that seems to be where everything seems to end up.

I would support a Big Ten Hockey conference if at least 10 of the Big Ten schools had teams.

Kyle Rossi:
I'll be honest, when Penn State first announced the creation of an NCAA program, I hoped we'd just take that 12th slot in the CCHA for a few reasons. First, I didn't want to rock the boat as the new kid and create the massive shakeup that ended up happening (including the part where many blame/hate PSU over it). I also felt like the CCHA offered a great mix of name schools for the casual fan - Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame - as well as schools like Miami that hockey people recognize as name programs. That leads into my final and biggest reason: the CCHA also had several schools that struggle more often than not like Bowling Green, Lake Superior State and a couple others. As a new program, I realize that we're not going to be very good out of the gate, and I thought it would be helpful to have a few weaker programs to climb over in the standings before worrying about beating Michigan. There are no weak programs in the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is going to be TOUGH, the best conference in college hockey in my opinion, and I have no idea how Penn State's ever going to win a conference championship ahead of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan (I suppose you can say that about the CCHA too, but at the same time, finishing 4th of 12 is better than finishing 4th of 6). It's going to be a tremendous battle for us to finish even in the top half of the league, and I hope we know what we've gotten ourselves into and how to compete with some of the best programs in history.

That said, I'm extremely excited for the BTN/media side of this whole thing. As a fan of a team only watchable via UStream or actually being at the game to this point, it blows my mind that Penn State hockey will be on "real" TV at some point. Even when we're not, the streaming will be of a much higher quality than what we're used to over in ACHAland! I also can't wait to get to know our new rivals, their players, coaches, traditions, and everything else. I have so much respect for all of them, and it's going to be a blast. 

Reed Miller:
As a Penn State fan, I'm kind of indifferent. I'm just glad we're finally going to have D1 hockey.

I would have been fine with joining the CCHA or ECAC but if having a B1G league means more of our road games will be on tv than that's good too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fan Feedback

So I've gotten a lot of personal feedback about Big Ten hockey, most not in favor of the conference. So what do you think? Shoot us an email at b1gicehockey@gmail.com and let us know how you really feel about the new Big Ten Hockey Conference and why. Responses will be posted by the end of the week (Friday March 16). Let's hear it folks!