Hockey team to take Canadian Tour

The Western Michigan hockey team is going to have a 4-week break in the middle of its season for 2003-04. To fill that gap the team will take a 3 game tour of Canada just after fall semester exams to keep their game sharp.

For the second straight season the WMU hockey team will not participate in a holiday tournament, but this season they will also not have any regular season games of any kind during the holiday break.

The last time the WMU hockey team participated in a holiday tournament was the Mariucci Classic during the 2001-02 season. Last season the Broncos traveled to Colorado College to play a pair of non-conference games during the holidays, however Colorado College declined a reciprocal visit to Kalamazoo for next season.

Head coach Jim Culhane stated in the 2003-04 prospectus "when we schedule elite programs in the future, we're going to ask that they reciprocate and come play at Lawson the following year."

The lack of a holiday tournament or non-conference action during the holiday break leaves a month long hole in the schedule that Culhane felt needed to be filled.

The Broncos will play Notre Dame at home on December 5 and 6 and not play another regular season game until a trip to Lake Superior State for games on January 2 and 3. To fill that void Culhane has worked out a tour of Ontario Canada for 3 exhibition games against Canadian universities.

Games on December 17, 18, and 19 will pit the Broncos against Brock, Western Ontario, and Wilfrid Laurier.

Following the games with Notre Dame the team will break for final exam week holding optional practices giving the players time for taking exams and for studying. After that exam week the team will take its tour of Canada and then break for Christmas. December 26 the team will come back to campus to resume practices and prepare for the series at Lake Superior State.

Culhane said of the tour "if we didn't have [the tour] in here we would have had 4 weeks until we played again. With that said, we'll only have a week or so to give the guys that time off."

Per NCAA rules collegiate teams are only allowed to take a foreign tour once every four years, and the Broncos will be taking full advantage of that rule to fill dead space in its schedule next season. The Bronco men's basketball took a foreign tour last season, but not as midseason space filler, rather as a late summer tour that preceded the school year.

A question mark for the program right now is whether or not to have a Brown & Gold game this fall. Last season the team opted to not play its annual intersquad scrimmage, and next season the game is only a possibility. The tentative schedule released June 16 has a preseason exhibition with Waterloo on October 4, but no Brown & Gold game listed. If one is played it will likely be on Friday, October 3.

When asked about the Brown & Gold game Culhane said, "I'm not sure yet; that's [Brown & Gold Game] a possibility. When we look at your 132 day practice schedule, if we feel structured practice is more important then a Brown & Gold game then we'll opt not to do it again."

The decision on whether to hold the Brown & Gold game next fall will be made by the coaches and players when the team reports in late August.

Assistant Coach Hired:

Sources have confirmed that Jim Culhane has hired WMU alum Brendan Kenny as an assistant coach. Kenny replaces Scott Garrow, who left earlier this summer for a second stint as an assistant at Cornell.

Kenny, a 1997 graduate of WMU, spent several seasons playing professional hockey in the WPHL, and during the 2001-02 season was a graduate assistant with the WMU hockey team.

Kenny is an Edmonton Alberta native who should bring strong recruiting connections to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). The AJHL in one of the premier Junior 'A' hockey leagues in Canada, and a heavily recruited league for NCAA hockey. Recent Bronco recruits from that league include senior captain Dana Lattery and junior forward Jeremy Cheyne.

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