Updated: NCHC, Target Center ink 5-year deal

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference announced it has signed a five-year deal to hold its championship tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis beginning in March 2014 to conclude its inaugural season.

The winners of the conference quarterfinals, which will be played on the home ice of the top four regular-season finishers in the eight-team league, will qualify to come to Minneapolis for the NCHC Championship at Target Center.

CBS Sports Network, the league’s national television partner, will televise the tournament’s two semifinal games and the championship game.  A third-place game also will be played at Target Center.  The dates and times for the games of the NCHC Championship at Target Center will be announced at a later date.

NCHC Commissioner Jim Scherr and Target Center Vice President and General Manager Steve Mattson were joined by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak in making the announcement today in a news conference at the arena.

“This is what a very happy mayor looks like.  This is tremendous, tremendous news,” said Mayor Rybak.  “With the improvements planned this will be an extraordinary event for the city of Minneapolis. This is a time we need to roll out the red carpet.”

The Target Center recently received the go-ahead to make $135 million in renovations to the facility which league officials said will enhance the fan and team experience at the venue, which was originally designed to host both basketball and hockey. The arena is the home of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA champion Lynx.

The central location for college hockey, a strong fan base and a top-end facility was too good for the league to ignore.

“The athletic directors and coaches of our member institutions are pleased that we will present our men’s ice hockey championship at a first-class venue in one of the nation’s best markets for college ice hockey,” Scherr said.  “This tournament is central to the success of our conference. We feel we found a winning combination.”

During its 21-year history, Target Center has hosted an array of outstanding ice hockey events, including National Hockey League regular-season and preseason games, International Hockey League games, four University of Minnesota “Border Battle” showdowns against Wisconsin, WCHA Final Five tournaments, Minnesota State High School tournaments, and United States Olympic Team exhibition games.

North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol remembered that his school won the last Final Five tournament held there. After a tour showing off planned renovations, including new dasher boards, glass and improved locker rooms, he thinks naysayers will be nullified.

“The plans will make for an outstanding hockey facility with great atmosphere,” Hakstol said.

“As the conference develops, the tradition will develop in this facility,” Scherr said. ‘We are not concerned.”

The NCHC’s members are Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.  Since 2000, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference has produced four NCAA champions, 14 NCAA Frozen Four appearances, 12 conference regular-season championships and 12 conference tournament championships.  All eight members have been participants in the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship tournament at least once since 2010, including five teams in 2012.

Sunday reading: MSG game, Wisconsin, Dimmen, USA women

It looks like Cornell will host Michigan at Madison Square Garden this November judging from this poster being distributed to Big Red fans.

If true, that would a big event for college hockey though I worry about filling such a large venue. No official confirmation has been made.

This tidbit was originally reported by the Michigan College Hockey blog, which provided the image.

Colorado Springs native Jeff Dimmen got to hoist the AHL’s Calder Cup Saturday afternoon when the Norfolk Admirals swept Toronto. Dimmen played in the first three games of the series.  Congrats to Jeff.

A former Vermont player is suing the university for lost financial aid after he was cut from the team.

Here’s more on the NCAA rules changes and Wisconsin brings in an Illinois goalie commit.

The Badgers are grumpy about having to leave the Kohl Center for neutral ice against St. Cloud State to end the regular season.

Katey Stone will be the coach of the U.S. women’s team in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia. The 18-year Harvard coach has 378 victories, the most for an active Division I women’s college hockey coach.

Stone will be the national team’s coach for the 2013 IIHF World Championships in Ottawa.

“Katey knows what it takes to build gold-medal teams,” Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey, said in a news release.  “We’re very excited to have her continue to lead our U.S. women’s national team up to and through the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

Saturday reading: NCHC venue, games of the decade, Gomez leaves

The Grand Forks Herald reported that the contract between the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Target Center in Minneapolis is for six years with an opt-out clause. UND player Andrew MacWilliam had shoulder surgery.

This CHN article also has some more background on the venue.

No doubt the WCHA will stay in the X and alternate with the Big 10 in Detroit as well. That contract will probably be announced soon.

College Hockey Weekly compiled its best games of the previous decade (1999-2000 to 2008-09 seasons) with two CC results making the honorable mention and one, the 2005 regional final versus Michigan,  making the top 10.

Which Tiger games are in your top 10?  Please include your real name by messaging me on Paisley Hockey on Facebook. I will pitch the story idea to CC sports information about this if there is enough fan interest shown. Thanks.

The NCAA rules committee managed to put off a decision concerning face shields and make some minor change recommendations.

Former Tiger Cody Lampl is training the next generation of college players to come out of Idaho’s Wood River Valley, where he grew up. I lived in that area and having that “hockey garage” is a step up for the area.

Finally, Gazette college hockey/Olympics/Sky Sox reporter Brian Gomez announced that his final day at the newspaper will be June 15 as he moves home to Phoenix to work for the Red Cross. Good luck to him (not that he will need it). He did a good job handling a heavy workload and I will miss him in the press box.

NCHC postseason announcement set for Monday

It looks like the long wait is over for some NCHC news.

Goal Gophers is reporting that the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Target Center have scheduled a press conference for the main lobby of the arena at 12:30 p.m. Mountain on Monday.

According to Gophers beat writer Roman Augustovitz, here are the folks expected to attend: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; NCHC Commissioner Jim Scherr; Target Center Vice President and General Manager Steve Mattson; Minnesota-Duluth Athletic Director Bob Nielsen; North Dakota Athletic Director Brian Faison; Representatives from some of the other member institutions in the new conference: Colorado College,  Denver, Miami,  Nebraska Omaha, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan.

There will be a live video stream of the event on the Internet at nchcmedia.ngin.com.

NCHC commissioner Jim Scherr said last month that a site for the conference tournament was “very, very close to having an agreement.”

The Big Ten Conference men’s hockey tournament will alternate between Xcel Energy Center (2014 and 2016) and Detroit (2015 and 2017) for at least four seasons.