Radio show highlights: UMD; No Need to Panic; NCHC work

Minnesota-Duluth poised to pull away

With a 16-game unbeaten streak (13-0-3), the defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (15-7-1, 11-3-0 WCHA) look ready to pull away for the WCHA regular-season title.

“It’s amazing considering their schedule,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said during the monthly radio show on 103.9 FM KRXP.  “They have that champion’s swagger. They have difference-makers like J.T. Brown and Jack Connolly. They’re a little scary.”

Games against Alabama-Huntsville and the bottom two WCHA teams suggest the second half may be easier, making it likely the Bulldogs could continue to be the hottest team in Division I for some time.

Don’t press the panic button just yet

A 1-2-1 nonconference record since Christmas may have some Tiger fans wringing their hands, but coach Scott Owens was quick to point out that the parity in college hockey is best illustrated by the fact that CC has dropped from No. 6 to No. 8 – not exactly a rankings freefall.

“Rankings don’t mean much,” he said. “They’re mostly for discussion but it showed we’re not the only ones losing.”

The focus is to keep getting better and get on a roll by late season.

“I want to make sure we get some things right and corrected,” Owens said, referring to recent struggles in 5-on-5 offense. “If we get things going in February as we did last year we can make a run.”

TV deal, other details looming

New National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Jim Scherr said that a significant TV deal for the new league will be announced in 2-3 weeks.

“One of the exciting things for The National and college hockey in general is NBC (formerly Versus) aggressively seeking college hockey hockey games along with CBS (Sports Network) and Fox,” he said.  “I think we will be able to make an announcement soon.  Certainly within next 2-3 weeks.”

Scherr added that the league is leaning towards “a slimmer schedule to give the teams a chance to play other teams to help their RPI.” That suggests the rumored 24-game league schedule is likely.

In addition to the TV deal, the league management, office, schedule and other details need to be done fairly quickly.

The league will also focus on developing the best officials possible and have a system that coaches and school officials can be comfortable with dealing with those officials.

“It’s 21 months but I expect it will pass before we know it,” Scherr said.

About paisleyhockey
I am a freelance writer specializing in sports with about 25 years of professional experience.

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