Fabulous frozen future

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

St. Cloud State 2011 menís hockey captains

Wearing their home whites are the 2011 menís hockey captains. Senior center Drew LeBlanc, Hermantown, is flanked by Ben Hanowski, left, a junior wing from Little Falls, and junior goalie Mike Lee, Roseau.

St. Cloud State 2011 menís hockey captains Jocelyn Zabrick Brittany Toor Alex Nelson 

The Huskies will join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (The National), an NCAA Division I conference that begins play in 2013-14 season.

Among the members of The National will be the preseason No. 1 Miami University, defending national champion University of Minnesota Duluth and two schools with a combined 14 national titles – Denver University and University of North Dakota.

Speaking at a media conference in the University’s Welcome Center, President Earl H. Potter III said quiet conversations between the founding schools and St. Cloud State revealed a match between the conference’s core principles and St. Cloud State’s values, commitments and competitive success.

The National is focused on winning programs, a high level of play, a university strategy that recognizes hockey as a premiere sport and a commitment to the student part of the student-athlete, according to Potter. “In the end, after serious study, it was the only decision that seemed right for us,” Potter said.

Completing The National’s eightteam roster will be Colorado College and University of Nebraska-Omaha from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and Western Michigan University from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Departing the WCHA in 2013 for the Big Ten conference are the universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Potter said he communicated directly with Bruce McLeod, WCHA commissioner, that men’s hockey will withdraw at the end of the 2012-13 season. The WCHA has been the Huskies’ conference home since 1990.

Also at the media conference were Brian Faison, spokesman for The National, and Bob Motzko ’89, head coach of the Huskies.

“We’re very excited and honored, frankly, to have St. Cloud as a partner,” said Faison, who is the North Dakota athletic director.

“We know that our university is on the verge of going great places right now,” said Motzko.

Since 2000, St. Cloud State men’s hockey has ranked among the nation’s premier programs, with six All-Americans, seven NCAA playoff bids and seven WCHA Final Five playoff bids.

In that same time period the Huskies had three Hobey Baker Top 10 finalists. The Hobey Baker Award is the Division I men’s hockey equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.

In 2001, the Craig Dahl coached Huskies won a WCHA Final Five championship.

The women’s hockey team will remain in the WCHA.

Conference move will aid arena project

Joining The National will improve the fundraising landscape as university officials seek sponsors and donors for the $31.1 million renovation and expansion of the National Hockey Center.

The project, which could break ground this fall, will transform the aging two-rink arena into a top-notch hockey venue and regional event center.

"Having relationships with hockey powers like UND , Denver, Miami and Duluth is enormously exciting to friends of the University and the regional business community," said Craig Wruck, vice president for university advancement.

- Jeff Wood

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