Cyclone Hockey Report: Why Not Us?

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 role.


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 attendance numbers.


So with all of this, conversations with Coach Al Murdoch, hockey fans, and a recent poll on (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 stadium.


I talked to Mike Kemp, head coach at University of Nebraska-Omaha's extremely 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 central Iowa 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 state.


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 level.


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.






- 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. Iowa 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 Saturday.


-          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 2nd


-          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 for updates.




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