For many years, there has been speculation that one day Iowa State's hockey team would make the jump from the non-scholarship level to NCAA Division 1. In recent years the speculation has died down, but with the emergence of Jamie Pollard as Athletic Director and the fast growth of hockey in Iowa the grumblings have come back out.
Many Iowa State fans have cried out to bring back
baseball, but a very silent contingent has wondered about the possibility of
bringing hockey to the next level. Some close to the team think that if it is
ever going to happen, Jamie Pollard would be the man to make it happen due to
his ties to the hockey rich University of Wisconsin and his constant activity in his
As we all know, Pollard has
continually stated that in order for Iowa State Athletics to be a force,
football must be healthy. With the signing of Gene Chizik, the wheels may be in
motion to bring football and Iowa State athletics to prominence. Wrestling
and basketball continue to be at the very least solid with volleyball and
gymnastics also having success in recent years. Cross Country, golf, swimming,
tennis, softball, and soccer are all improving, but do not bring in great
So with all of this, conversations
with Coach Al Murdoch, hockey fans, and a recent poll on www.uscho.com (the top college hockey website)
there seems to be a small buzz brewing.
The poll asked visitors to the
website which team at the "club level" would have the best chance of making it
in Division 1 in the College Hockey America conference. The Conference
includes Bemidji State, Robert
Morris University, Niagra,
Alabama-Huntsville, and Wayne State.
The poll offered Iowa State as
one of the choices due to the growth of hockey in Iowa as well as the great
junior hockey teams already in the state. This really got the cranks in the ole
brain going. Why not us?
Now let's put aside all of the
logical explanations of why this may not be able to happen. Obviously there is
the issue of money. There is also the issue of Title IX, and finally we do not
have a hockey facility that is worthy of NCAA Division 1. These are the
questions I do not have answers for. But I do have answers from a hockey
standpoint as well as a school standpoint.
There are a lot of benefits to
adding hockey to the list of our scholarship sports. Right now, hockey is
booming in Iowa. The addition of the AHL's Iowa Stars
cemented Iowa's place as a budding hockey hungry state.
Most importantly, the presence of Tier 1 Junior Hockey in Iowa is reason enough to
consider forming a NCAA hockey program. The Des Moines Buccaneers, Sioux City
Muskateers, Waterloo Blackhawks, and Cedar Rapids Rough Riders of the United
States Hockey League are feeders to the top colleges in the nation.
All of these kids come through our
state from around the US and
Canada for an opportunity to
audition for the top Division 1 schools like Minnesota, Boston College,
Michigan, and Ohio State. Why not keep some of them around?
It sure makes recruiting easy. Now we may never be able to compete with the
schools listed above for hockey recruiting, but we still have an opportunity to
try and potentially be successful.
Also think about all of the Des
Moines Buccaneers or Cedar Rapids Rough Riders fans who will become Iowa State
fans when their favorite Bucs or Riders suit up for the Cyclones. With those
people, in addition to a student fan base that would undoubtedly be more
supportive of a Division 1 program, you would see a pretty crowded
I talked to Mike Kemp, head coach
at University of
successful Division 1 hockey team. They are in their tenth year of existence and
continually remain atop the NCAA in attendance and season ticket sales. While
UNO is actually Division II school, they have been able to field a very
successful Division 1 Hockey team. That is in Omaha, Nebraska, a town with no history or tradition
of hockey. But the fans still eat it up.
Coach Kemp said, "This is a
college community, people get more excited to see teams like the University of Michigan." The same can be said for
and really the entire state. This a state enamored with college athletics. Our
professional teams are great to have, but it is really the college games that
draw. Kemp said that UNO hockey is the dominant player in attendance in the city
of Omaha. Could
that happen here?
As far as Kemp is concerned the
answer is yes. "College Hockey has been successful and made money at almost
every campus it has been implemented." The exceptions are few and far between.
He said it would be a "no brainer" to start hockey up at ISU. Kemp, who spent
time as an assistant coach at University of Wisconsin as the head recruiter, thinks there is no
reason Ames and the Iowa State community can't support hockey.
"There has been a precedence set that hockey is successful in Iowa," Kemp said,
referring to the success of Junior teams throughout the
He feels that if schools like UNO
and Minnesota State Mankato can have successful Division 1 programs, Iowa State definitely could. Obviously that
requires a lot of support from fans and the administration. But as hockey
continues to grow in Iowa, there seems to be no better time for
fans and decision makers with the University get on board. It's something that
we at least have to talk about.
More and more people within the
hockey community are talking about Iowa State. They have had a tradition of
winning at the non-scholarship level which many think can continue at the next
Next week we will take a look at
what it would take to bring in some of the best players and further explore the
growth of hockey in Iowa and at Iowa State.
CYCLONE HOCKEY NEWS AND
- Freshman Christian Johansson was
named National Defensive Player of the Week by the ACHA for his performance the
last weekend of November at North
Dakota State. He only allowed 2 goals the entire
weekend getting the shut out in the second game of that series.
The Cyclones swept a conference
opponent for the first time this season this past weekend at Ames/ISU Ice Arena.
State defeated the #17
Robert Morris College Eagles. Both games went right down to the wire with the
Clones winning in a shootout on Friday night and winning with just 46 seconds
left in overtime Saturday. Jayson Peterson scored the game winner on Friday and
Allen Raushel netted his second OT game winner of the season on
Bill Adolph was named Cyclone
Hockey Player of the Week for the second straight time for his 2 goal one assist
performance against Ohio the weekend of Dec. 1 and
The Cyclones will go on a month
long Christmas hiatus until they return to action January 5th and
6th at Ames/ISU Ice Arena against Missouri State. Check www.cyclonehockey.com for