Why Not Us: Part Two

The last article we put out made a lot of waves on the message boards, so let's see if we can't get some more debate going with this little piece. If anything, we might be able to answer some of your questions and concerns. The biggest question not addressed in the last article was our ability to recruit top athletes and be competitive in the NCAA.

A lot of folks are worried that if we did in fact end up implementing hockey, would we be able to be competitive in recruiting and on the ice. The answer is simply, yes. There are a lot of excellent young hockey players and there are not enough Division 1 teams to go around.

 

The young boys who began their hockey careers when hockey was considered the fastest growing sport in America in the mid 1990's are now reaching college age and are ready to play. That, coupled with a much improved developmental hockey programs in the US make for a plethora of talent just begging for a team to play with.

 

Most of our ability to obtain top talent depends on the staff composed to recruit them. Our current staff has done a splendid job getting the best young players available to play without scholarships. Cyclone Hockey went from a team mostly comprised of straight out of high school players just a few years ago to a team made up mostly of Tier 1 Junior or Junior B players and some elite high school players.

 

Think about throwing the opportunity to play Division 1 hockey on a scholarship at one of the finest schools in the Midwest. Also think about selling the opportunity to be the cornerstones of a Division 1 hockey program. Coach Mike Kemp of University of Nebraska-Omaha joked that when he began recruiting, he was recruiting "smoke." ISU would have to do essentially the same.

 

UNO had no facilities and no tradition to sell. They had no home rink or uniforms yet either. But Kemp was able to put a team together that 12-18-3 including a sweep of national power Denver in 1997-98. Not too shabby for a team just starting out. They joined the CCHA, one of the best conferences in the nation and within 2 years made it to their conference tournament final. UNO has remained a contender in the conference and have gained notoriety around the NCAA for their outstanding fan attendance and support.

 

Now if Nebraska-Omaha can recruit top quality players including several who have made the jump to the AHL or NHL (two of Kemp's former players are currently on the Iowa Stars roster), Iowa State certainly could.

 

Iowa State is a Big 12 school with a rich tradition scholastically and athletically. It's a big campus with a sound social scene and a sports crazy student body. The school offers diverse majors and a great college environment. It's why many of the players on the current roster claim that they came to Iowa State over other schools.

 

Division 1 College hockey is known for its ability to produce players who are excellent students. That is mainly because the majority of the coaches in the nation stress academics first. Almost all share the philosophy that good, smart students make good, smart hockey players.

 

College hockey players are also known for their community involvement. Coach Kemp stated that he is most proud of the fact that a lot of the players from his first few years at UNO have stayed in Omaha post graduation and are active within the community and university. One of the things Iowa State wants to focus on is keeping students within the state of Iowa. Wouldn't it be nice for some of their student athletes to lead the way in that effort?

 

From a hockey standpoint, Iowa State could make a name for itself in the sport very quickly. A lot has to happen before Jamie Pollard will consider such a move, but it is a move to be talked about. At my last count, the Cyclone Nation message board had 45 posts…about hockey! People were weighing in from all angles. There were supportive and negative posts. Good hearted and spirited debate is what we need on this topic and that is what we are getting right here.

 

Is Iowa ready for this? Is Iowa State ready for this? I think that the answer is yes. Coach Kemp agrees and the junior hockey coaches around Iowa agree. Despite the fact that Iowa State would be a competitor to both in recruiting and attendance respectively, both parties want to see hockey at Iowa State.

 

The late Herb Brooks, former Minnesota coach and 1980 Olympic coach wanted to see it happen as well. Coach Al Murdoch told me that Brooks was talking about us making the jump not long before his untimely death just a few years ago. One could wonder what would have happened had a big name like Brooks come in here and made his case.

 

In any event, the decision belongs to Iowa State. The administration, the financial supporters, and the fans will all have to figure out if this is a topic worthy of looking into further. Nonetheless, people are talking about hockey, and that's all you can ask for.

 

Next Week: We look at the here and now of Iowa State hockey.

 

CYCLONE HOCKEY MID SEASON REVIEW:

 

The Cyclones currently sit at 17-6-1 overall and are ranked #6 in the nation.

 

In CSCHL Conference play, The Cyclones are 5-4-1 and sit in 5th Place.

 

Jayson Peterson leads the team with 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 Points

 

Jason Brown leads the team in assists with 23, he has 30 points (2nd on team)

 

Peter Majkozak leads all rookies with 27 points including 17 goals.

 


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