Both the Big Ten and NCHC held their media days in the Twin Cities on Thursday afternoon, and for those who attended, they were very good events (it was especially nice that both leagues were on the same day, so those of us who traveled could kill two birds with one stone).
I saw some people asking about attendance. I thought it was pretty solid. All of the beat writers within driving distance were there — GF Herald, Omaha World Herald, Duluth News Tribune and the St. Cloud Times. Among local media were the Star Trib, Pioneer Press, Let’s Play Hockey, Minnesota Hockey Magazine and a couple of others that I didn’t recognize. There were about 7-8 TV cameras, but I only recognized Midco Sports Net. A couple radio stations also were there, including 740 The Fan from Fargo.
There were plenty of other newsworthy notes outside of the whole conference shakeup theme:
1. The league’s preseason media poll was released: 1. Miami, 2. North Dakota, 3. St. Cloud State, 4. Denver, 5. Western Michigan, 6. Duluth, 7. Colorado College, 8. Omaha. I voted Omaha second, so that result shocked me. If Omaha finishes last, I will go two weeks without eating pizza.
2. College Hockey News broke a story about how the Pairwise Rankings are changing this season. The coaches are completely in the dark about this. A couple of them had no clue this development even happened until I mentioned it. Others had no clue what it meant. Others were upset because this was not a change that was supposed to happen at this time with little research. That could be an interesting storyline to follow this season.
3. For UND’s side, UND coach Dave Hakstol acknowledged that Mark MacMillan would most likely play center this season. He was strong up the middle to end last season. After that, Hakstol said it’s wide open. A lot of guys are in the mix to play center, but that will have to work itself out in the next few weeks. Same thing goes for line combinations.
4. The NCHC regular season trophy will be called the Penrose Cup. It’s named after Spencer and Julie Penrose, big contributors to college hockey out of the Springs.
5. The Coach of the Year Award is being named after Herb Brooks. His son, Dan, was on hand for the announcement.
6. The NCHC postseason trophy will be announced later on.
7. Omaha has re-instated Grand Forks native Alex Simonson. He was one of three players cited for a fight in the Old Market, but coach Dean Blais said Simonson went to court and was cleared. Blais said Simonson is a “good kid” and was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. He said Simonson will be suspended a couple of games for not informing Blais of the incident, though.
8. Steve Piotrowski, head of the Big Ten officials and the NCAA Rules Committee, was on hand. He talked about how there will be a renewed effort on protecting the puck carrier this year in college hockey.
9. NCHC held its training camp for officials recently. They brought in an Air Force Lt. Col. to help with vision training. They also worked with a sports psychologist among other things.
10. I have some other content, but that will have to wait for another story or the Herald’s preview section, which comes out Thursday.