This is the first article in our new On Location series where we will live tweet a college game that we attend in person and then later post an article here on the site.

Teams: St. Cloud State Huskies at St. Thomas Tommies

Where: Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota

When: October 3, 2021 at 5:07 p.m.

Puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021
Opening puck drop at the first St. Thomas home game on October 3, 2021.

This was the second game of a home-and-home series to begin the 2021-22 season for these two teams. St. Cloud State hosted the first game on Saturday night and showed the new Division I team why they are ranked #2/3 in the preseason polls. The Huskies impressively won 12-2. The same two teams met on Sunday evening on October 3, 2021, in St. Paul. It’s credited as the first Division I home game for St. Thomas despite it being at the Xcel Energy Center instead of the team’s St. Thomas Ice Arena. 4,261 fans were in attendance.

St. Cloud State jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Zach Okabe in the first period. Jami Krannila and Spencer Meier assisted on the play. Shots on goal in the first period were 12-4 in favor of the Huskies.

St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0
St. Cloud State celebrates a first period goal to put the Huskies up 1-0.

The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. This weekend of hockey played every March includes the final four teams left in the conference tournament with the winner of the title game hoisting the Frozen Faceoff trophy and earning an automatic bid to the national tournament. The NCHC conference tournament took place in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 2021 but the Frozen Faceoff will return to St. Paul in 2022. This game against St. Thomas is the first time St. Cloud State has played at the Xcel Energy Center since March 23, 2019, when the Huskies lost 3-2 in 2OT to UMD in the 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff title game.

NCHC team logos showing that the Xcel Energy Center is home of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff
The Xcel Energy Center is home to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

In the second period, the Huskies scored again to make it 2-0 heading into the third period. This time the goal was from Micah Miller with the assist from Kevin Fitzgerald. The Tommies had several chances but came up short. Shots in the second frame were 7-6 in favor of St. Cloud State.

St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game
St. Thomas gets a shot off in the second period of the October 3, 2021 game against St. Cloud State.

There’s an area in the Xcel Energy Center that is devoted to the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Memorial Awards. It includes a list of past winners, replica Hobey Baker Award, and jerseys of a handful of past recipients. There are also summaries of the awards and what they mean to the hockey community.

There was no scoring in the third period. St. Thomas pulled the goalie but no goals were scored for either team before time expired. St. Cloud State outshot the Tommies 29-14. David Hrenak recorded his first shutout of the season as the Huskies opened the season with two wins. The Tommies put up a good fight but are still looking for the program’s first Division I win.

St. Cloud State still pushing the puck in the final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021
Final minutes of the St. Cloud State and St. Thomas game on October 3, 2021.

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The St. Thomas Tommies will begin a new chapter this Saturday, October 2. When the puck drops in St. Cloud against the Huskies, St. Thomas will have officially made the jump to Division I. The Tommies will be the second team in as many years to join the ranks of the top men’s division of college hockey. But unlike Long Island, who created a program from scratch prior to the 2020-21 season, St. Thomas has a long and storied history of hockey. This is a program that began play in 1920. Prior to this season, the Tommies had only been a part of one conference: Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). With a new division comes new scenery. The Tommies will immediately participate in the revamped CCHA. However, the team must first play the national runner-up and NCHC powerhouse, St. Cloud State to begin the season. The home-and-home series will occur on Saturday and Sunday with the Tommies first home game taking place at the Xcel Energy Center; home of the Minnesota Wild.

In the featured photo, the St. Thomas hockey team is shown participating in an intrasquad scrimmage in 1924. The location is presumably on campus. The Tommies went 8-2 during the 1923-24 season. The program holds the record for most wins among all Division III hockey schools. As the sixth Division I hockey program in Minnesota, the program will have its hands full on the ice in the CCHA as well as the recruitment trail. But if past accomplishments are any indication and early trends continue for this new-look program, Rico Blasi’s team will not only fit right in, it will excel within the State of Hockey.

Photo Credit: Minnesota Historical Society.

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This is Part 2 of a two-part series where we look back at the unique two-game series between the USC Trojans and Minnesota Golden Gophers that took place more than 83 years ago. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

On March 26, 1938, USC and Minnesota faced off for game two of their series in Los Angeles. The Trojans defeated the heavily-favored Gophers 5-2 just two days beforehand. Minnesota had hoped to jump out to an early lead to quiet the packed Polar Palace arena crowd in Hollywood. It looked like they may be in luck early on as the Gophers were awarded a power play in the first period. Unfortunately for the away team, they gave up the puck in front of the USC net and Herm Schaller skated the length of the ice to tally a short-handed goal for USC to make it 1-0. The Trojans extended the lead to 3-0 on two second period goals from Bennie Novicki. The Gophers gained a little momentum back when Bill Bredeson scored at the end of the second period making it 3-1 heading into the third.

Eventually the Gophers tied it up 3-3 with two unanswered goals in the final frame. However, USC stood tall and wouldn’t back down. Earl Robson stole the puck from the legendary John Mariucci and scored the game winner with less than two minutes to go in regulation. The Saturday night game ended 4-3 in favor of the home team and earned the Trojan hockey team a sweep of the Big Ten champion Gophers.

The Gophers would head north three days later to Washington to face Gonzaga in the last game of the three-game West Coast trip. The team lost 5-1 in the only hockey contest to date between the two schools. The Trojans and Gophers would face off again the following season. USC traveled east to Minnesota just nine months later. The cold weeknights in December didn’t faze the Trojans as they swept the Gophers yet again; accounting for one third of Minnesota’s losses in the 1938-39 season. The early series set the tone for USC that season with the Trojans eventually regaining their Pacific coast championship from Loyola in 1939.

December 1938 would be the last time these two teams shared the ice together. Eighty-two years later USC can still claim they are undefeated against the Minnesota hockey team with a 4-0 record.

The golden state of California was home to very talented college hockey teams in the 1930s. Yes, you read that right. In fact, these teams would routinely put up great competition against the best that the United States and Canada had to offer. USC and Loyola dominated the four-team league in California. We highlighted these two teams in our coverage of the 1930s in our U.S. College Hockey History summary.

Today we’re focusing on the first time the Golden Gophers of Minnesota visited Los Angeles to take on the host USC Trojans on March 24, 1938. USC had recently lost the league championship to Loyola the previous week. This marked four championships in a row for Loyola. It had to have stung the Trojans who were hoping to regain the West Coast title they routinely touted in the early 1930s. The heavily-favored Gophers were the reigning Big Ten champions. It was rumored that the Gophers purposely avoided Loyola on the team’s West Coast tour due to the alleged “poaching” of Minnesota’s Iron Range prospects by the Loyola team. USC hockey teams routinely included players from Canada, Minnesota and Massachusetts but there was no ill will between the two universities.

The indoor Polar Palace arena was packed with 3,500 spectators who wanted to see how this West Coast-Midwest tilt was going to shape up. They were treated to a fast-paced game from the opening puck drop. Both teams had four shots on goal within the first two minutes of regulation. Nat Harty of USC broke the proverbial ice five minutes into the game. The Trojans would jump out to a 2-0 lead later in the first period. The Gophers were able to get on the board in the final period to cut it to 2-1. Minnesota was able to narrow the lead to one goal again later in the final period but the Trojans scored twice in 20 seconds and took the opening game of the series 5-2.

Leading the Trojans that night was the team’s senior captain Nat Harty with two goals. The Daily Trojan applauded goalie Jerry Beranek as well as defensemen Al Fitzgerald and Howie Smith for bottling up Minnesota sophomore John Mariucci. The paper claimed it was the first time in Mariucci’s college career where he was held scoreless in a game.

Nat Harty captained the Southern California Trojans in 1938

In Part 2 of our USC-Minnesota series, we will highlight the second game that took place on Saturday, March 26, 1938.

Photo Credit: USC Digital Library. The Daily Trojan Collection

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Hockey will be back in action on the Yale campus this upcoming fall after the Ivy League cancelled winter sports last season due to COVID concerns. The 2020-21 season was the first time the Yale Bulldogs did not field an ice hockey team since its inception in 1895. That is quite an impressive run for the school that played the very first intercollegiate game in the history of the sport.

Today we’re taking a look back at the Yale squad from the 1932-33 season. It was the third season with Holcomb York at the helm and was the last Independent season for the Bulldogs before the Quadrangular League was formed. This precursor to the Ivy League included Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth. The 1932-33 team was coming off of an 11-7-2 record the previous season. With hopes for a fast start, the team ended up 5-4 after the first nine games. However, an impressive 12-0 victory over Middlebury followed by an 11-0 shutout of Brown the next game jumpstarted the team into a four-game winning streak. As was tradition at the time, the team met Harvard in the final games of the season. Yale won the first game 4-1 at home. The final two games took place at Boston Garden with the Crimson defeating the Bulldogs 4-1 on March 4 and again 4-3 (in overtime) on March 8. At the end of the season, Yale ended up with an 11-8-0 record.

In the accompanying team photo, the players are wearing the white sweaters with Yale Blue trim. The player in the center of the photo who is the only one wearing the Y logo is presumably the captain, Alexander Fletcher.

Photo Credit: Yale Athletics Photographs (RU 691). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

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In part two of our series about the Robert Morris Colonials, we’re going to take a look back at the season where the program reached the national tournament for the first time in its history: 2013-14.

Looking to build upon a successful 20-14-4 campaign from the previous season, the Colonials had high hopes heading into the fall of 2013. However, it didn’t start out exactly how the team had planned with Robert Morris going winless in the first four weeks of the season with a 0-5-1 record. Tough interconference games against Lake Superior State, Ohio State and Penn State put the team in an early hole. In fact, it set the tone for the first half of the season. By the time the calendar flipped to 2014, the Colonials were staring down a 2-12-2 record. The Colonials even ended up in fourth place out of four teams in the Three Rivers Classic; a Pittsburgh holiday tournament RMU hosted in December that the team had won just the year before.

If the Colonials were going to dig themselves out of the hole they created, the schedule makers didn’t do them any favors. The second half of the season saw RMU begin play with four away games in seven days. Perhaps the team felt it had nothing to lose and played loose or Coach Derek Schooley made the necessary adjustments but no matter what it was, the team won three of the four games. This began a run of games that resembled what the team expected to do at the onset of the season. The Colonials ended up going 11-4-3 in the second half.

This impressive second half pushed the Colonials to a 5 seed in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. With an automatic bid to the national tournament on the line, 8 of the 12 teams faced off during the first weekend of March in best-of-three series. The top four seeds received byes. Robert Morris hosted Army and easily won 8-4 in the opening game. Army bounced back to win the second game to force a deciding game three. In this third game, Army scored first but the Colonials rallied for three unanswered goals to advance to the next round. Robert Morris traveled to UConn to take on the Huskies in the best-of-three Quarterfinals. The Colonials blanked the Huskies in game one 3-0 and swept the series 3-2 the following night to earn a spot in the semifinals in Rochester, New York.

It would be single elimination from here on out for the four remaining teams in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament with the victor earning a bid to the national tournament. The Colonials squandered a 4-2 lead to Niagara late in the third period and the game ended up going to overtime. Scott Jacklin was the hero as he scored with five minutes left in overtime, sending RMU to the championship against 7 seed Canisius. The Colonials took home the hardware by defeating the Golden Griffins 7-4 behind a hat trick from Cody Wydo. It was the first (and only) AHA Tournament title for RMU. Four Colonials made the All-Tournament Team with Wydo receiving the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Robert Morris received a tough draw for the national tournament. During the tournament selection show, the team learned they were going to face the number one overall seed, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, in their backyard in St. Paul on March 29, 2014. The Colonials put up a good fight for the majority of the first period but three Gophers goals in three minutes and thirty seconds late in the first period proved to be too much. Wydo put RMU on the board in the second period. Goals by Zac Lynch and David Friedmann later in the game weren’t enough to overcome the early deficit as the Gophers won 7-3. In the accompanying photo, goalie Dalton Izyk makes a sprawling save while losing his stick in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center.

Looking back seven years later, it can be considered a successful season for the Colonials. The team overcame a very rough first half of the season and could have easily packed it in after winter break. Instead, the team went on a very impressive run of games and won the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. The Colonials made it to the national tournament for the first (and only) time in school history and eventually lost to the national runner-up in their home state. All involved should be proud about what they accomplished during the 2013-14 season.

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The 2016 Three Rivers Classic was held in Pittsburgh during the final weekend of the year. The four college teams vying for the Confluence Cup were host Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, Boston College and Ferris State. This was the first time this combination of teams participated in the holiday tournament since it began four years prior. Robert Morris was defending its tournament title after defeating Massachusetts Lowell in 2015. The opening round in 2016 between Robert Morris and Ferris State was a nail biter as the Colonials won 1-0 on a goal from Daniel Leavens. Robert Morris freshman goalie Francis Marotte earned the shutout. In the other opening round game, 13th ranked Quinnipiac defeated Boston College 3-1.

The Bobcats jumped on the board first during the tournament’s championship game with a goal from Chase Priskie. The Colonials evened the score and then pulled away for good on a goal from Rob Mann with 46 seconds left in the second period. In the above photo, Daniel Mantenuto of Robert Morris handles the puck against Kevin McKernan in the third period.

Robert Morris went on to defeat Quinnipiac 5-2 to win the Confluence Cup; a trophy provided to the winner of the annual tournament. It was the Colonials third Confluence Cup in five years. After surrendering just two goals throughout both games, Francis Marotte earned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. Earlier in the day, Boston College defeated Ferris State in overtime to win the consolation game.

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Robert Morris again hosted the Three Rivers Classic the following two seasons with Providence and Brown each winning one. With the recent news that Robert Morris has discontinued its men’s and women’s hockey programs, it doesn’t look promising that this tournament will come back without the host school. In fact, the tournament wasn’t held in 2019-20 because the organizers took a year off to reevaluate strategy. The Colonials still played a game at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena against Penn State on January 4, 2020. And the tournament didn’t have a chance of reappearing this past season because of reduced schedules due to COVID protocols. If a weekend college hockey tournament is to happen again in Pennsylvania, then the responsibility falls to Penn State to act as the host due to the Nittany Lions being the only remaining Division I program in the state. It’s worth noting Penn State was a fixture in the first four Three Rivers Classics. No matter what happens with the Robert Morris program or future tournaments in Pennsylvania, it appears this era of the Three Rivers Classic is designated for the history books.

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On July 23, 1987, the Alabama Huntsville athletic department called a press conference. The school’s hockey team had just completed a 20-win season – its first in Division II. The university announced that the Chargers hockey team was elevating its program to Division I – effective immediately. The NCAA did not sponsor Division II hockey so the move allowed the school to play against the best competition at the collegiate level with a chance to participate in the NCAA postseason.

The Chargers first opponent in Division I was the Maine Black Bears on October 30, 1987. It was a true test to start this new era as the Black Bears were nationally ranked and coming off a 24-win season that ended in the national tournament. The Chargers put two goals on the scoreboard that evening but it wasn’t enough as Maine defeated the host team 8-2.

The Chargers ended their inaugural Division I season with an 11-18-1 record. The schedule for the 1987-88 season was a mix between Division I and II opponents. It is common for programs to schedule a mix of Division I opponents in the first season at the highest collegiate level. The season saw the team travel to Alaska in December to play a total of four games against Alaska and Alaska Anchorage in six days. The Chargers also faced off against St. Cloud State four times in the month of February. The season ended on a high note with a victory over Queens University of Ontario in the Alabama Face-Off Tournament that the school hosted.

As with all hockey programs, Alabama Huntsville has had its ups and downs throughout the years. The program dropped back down to Division II in 1992 and ended up winning two national championships over Bemidji State in 1996 and 1998. After six seasons in Division II, it was elevated back to Division I in 1998 and then joined its first Division I conference – College Hockey America – in 1999. The Chargers participated in two Division I national tournament games; losing both in 2007 and 2010. Alabama Huntsville was admitted to the WCHA conference in 2013. It was an historic moment for this program. On its own proverbial island, the Chargers hockey team is a one-of-a-kind program in the southern United States. This is a program that has defied the odds and keeps pushing forward.

Its toughest test yet came seven years later. In response to COVID-19, Alabama Huntsville announced in May 2020 that the hockey program would be discontinued. However, the university stated that the program would be reinstated if the community could raise $750,000. Pledges from alumni and the general public surpassed that goal in one week so the program ended up participating in the WCHA for the 2020-21 season. With the majority of teams in the WCHA leaving to create a newly-reformed CCHA for the 2021-22 season, Alabama Huntsville announced on May 5, 2021, that the university was suspending the hockey program. The school officials and the alumni group that helped provide funds the previous season had both agreed to discontinue the program if they were unable to secure a new conference. There is a caveat that the hockey program will be reinstated if a new conference can be secured. If that happens, Alabama Huntsville will not be eligible for conference play for at least one year after receiving an invitation. This leaves the door open for a possible return in 2022-23.

If we’ve learned one thing about college hockey over the past eight seasons, it’s that the conference structure is not set in stone. There have been major conference realignments as well as several new teams that have joined Division I. While it looks almost certain that Alabama Huntsville won’t play hockey in the 2021-22 season, we’re not going to rule anything out regarding its future. A conference invitation could be in its future along with a new lease on life for the Alabama Huntsville Chargers hockey team.

Photo Credit: UAH Magazine, Winter 1988. Archives and Special Collections, M. Louis Salmon Library at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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The 1939-40 college hockey season was a successful one for the Colgate Raiders hockey team. The Raiders won the Lake Placid Invitation Hockey Tournament at the beginning of the new year. After defeating Union on New Year’s Day and then Middlebury the following day, Colgate met MIT in the tournament championship game. It was the third game in three days for both clubs. The thrilling game ended when co-captain Steve Dewey scored a goal in the closing seconds of the second (and final) overtime period to give the Raiders a 5-4 win. The game would have been called a tie if the second overtime period remained scoreless. Harry Wheeler, the other co-captain, received praise for his goal-scoring prowess throughout the season. There were numerous games where he scored the only goals of the game for the Raiders. Wheeler totaled 15 goals and 7 assists by season’s end. Fan-favorite Jack Wells followed with 11 goals and 4 assists. This earned him the lone captaincy the following season. Other notable items from the season included the postponement of three games due to poor ice as well as an exciting Sophomore line that was broken up near the end of the season when two of the three Sophomores dropped out of college halfway through the spring semester. The team lost the final three games of the season after this occurred. There are some discrepancies regarding the final record of the team. After consulting additional sources, we recognize the record of 8-6-0. In the accompanying photo, the 14 members of the 1939-40 Colgate hockey team lined up for the annual team photo that later appeared in the school’s yearbook. The goalies wore different jerseys compared to the rest of the team. Note the different color sweater with numbers on the front compared to the school’s name for the remainder of the team. Looking at it even closer, it appears the number font is different between each goalie.

Photo credit: 1940 Colgate Yearbook

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The second semifinal game of the 2021 Frozen Four will look familiar to hockey fans. When Massachusetts and Minnesota Duluth drop the puck Thursday night, they’ll be playing against one another for the first time since the most recent championship game in 2019. In that game, UMD blanked UMass 3-0 to earn back-to-back titles. Since there wasn’t a Frozen Four last year, UMD is looking to three-peat while UMass is looking to avenge their loss. In the accompanying photo, Hunter Shepard sprawls out to block a shot from Anthony Del Gaizo to help preserve his seventh shutout of the 2018-19 season. Shepard finished his NCAA career undefeated in the NCAA tournament at 8-0. The upcoming game on Thursday will mark the fourth Frozen Four in a row for UMD and the second in a row for UMass. UMD is looking to become the first three-peat champion since Michigan did so in 1951-53. However, the roles are reversed for this meeting as UMass is the higher seed instead of UMD. If the Bulldogs win, they’ll head back to the championship game looking for the program’s fourth title. If the Minutemen advance, they’ll be looking to win their first championship trophy.