Category Archives: College Hockey

Thoughts on the Inaugural Rivalry on Ice

Last night at Madison Square Garden, the Yale Bulldogs (8-3-4, 4-2-3) took down the Harvard Crimson (5-8-3, 2-7-3) in the inaugural edition of what was titled the “Rivalry on Ice”. In front of a crowd of 15,000 plus, Rangers greats Mark Messier and (Yale alum) Mike Richter, and Secretary of State John Kerry, the reigning national champs took down their archrivals 5-1. Any question of the game’s eventual outcome was answered by Yale’s 3 goal barrage in the space of three minutes in the second period. Cody Learned scored 2 goals and was named MVP of the game in a postseason ceremony following Yale’s victory.

Yale Captain Jesse Root and the Bulldogs swamped the Crimson at MSG on Saturday night

Yale Captain Jesse Root and the Bulldogs swamped the Crimson at MSG on Saturday night

I was fortunate enough to attend the game, and I had several observations to share.

  • Harvard’s starting goalie, Raphael Girard, had a very shaky performance. He was pulled after he let up a fourth goal, the final goal in the three goal barrage in the second period.  He had a truly terrible moment earlier in the period, when he attempted to make a save on a shot on goal from Learned, but ended up letting the puck hit his stick and slide into the net. If Harvard wants to put on a better show, Girard needs to play more effectively.
  • Madison Square Garden looks modern, sleek, and clean following its $1 billion renovation over the past several years. The new Chase Bridge (which I sat on for a separate Rangers game) was a great spot to see a game from, and the new scoreboard in the center of the arena has an outstandingly clear picture. I’ve always liked MSG, but the renovations make an even better venue. That being said, the audio issues with Harvard’s marching band were slightly irritating.
  • Yale fans tired of watching the football team get embarrassed in the Game, which Harvard has won the last 7 years, might want to get tickets for the next edition of the Rivalry on Ice. It was nice to see Yale dominate a Crimson team for once (even though harvardfan94 likely disagrees with me).
  • It was very cool seeing Mark Messier at the game. MSG loved him, of course, and he seemed happy to be back. Messier has been doing lots of promotional work for the Kingsbridge Armory, which is scheduled to become the world’s largest indoor ice center in 2017. In appreciation of Messier and his work for the center, please give it a follow!
  • It was also nice to see Secretary of State Kerry at the game, but it was slightly concerning that Kerry was watching a hockey game instead of dealing with the foreign affairs of the nation. You might want to get your priorities in order, John.

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Why College Hockey Could Be On The Rise

The Yale men’s hockey team won their first National Title last night, knocking off the Quinnipiac Bobcats by a final of 4-0.

The game ended a season of good television exposure for college hockey. NBC Sports aired a fair amount of college hockey as a response to the NHL lockout and CBS Sports aired a few games too.

The fact remains, however, that college hockey is much closer to college baseball than college football or basketball when it comes to popularity. Four NCAA Tourney games this season were not available live on television (I kid you not).  And all the games before the Frozen Four that were on TV were on ESPNU.

The good news for college hockey and its fans is that there are reasons to believe that the sport could be on the rise.

College hockey will never be as popular as college basketball or football, but it could see a rise in popularity in the near future.

College hockey will never be as popular as college basketball or football, but it could see a rise in popularity in the near future.

One of college hockey’s biggest problems is simply that there are not very many teams. There are 59 Division I college hockey programs and when you compare that to the 347 Division I college basketball teams, you can see right off the bat one reason why there are more college basketball fans. But the number of D1 college hockey programs may see a rise in the near future. Yahoo Sports’ NHL blog, Puck Daddy, featured an interesting post on Wednesday that made the case that the swift rise of success for Quinnipiac’s hockey team could offer inspiration for other colleges to support a Division I program. More teams would certainly help college hockey’s popularity, if only very slightly.

The most obvious problem with college hockey in terms of popularity, however, is the lack of exposure. Even this season, college hockey was rarely on television. Heck, there is not even a college hockey section on (ESPN does have sections for such hugely popular spectator sports as mixed martial arts, poker, women’s basketball, cricket, and lacrosse). The reason for this is not so much an anti-hockey bias as a lack of interest. If college hockey games got great ratings, ESPN would start showing them.

The good news: TV exposure could get better for college hockey. With new sports channels sprouting up such as Fox Sports 1, sports that translate well to television will be in high demand. Sports channels may need to resort to college hockey for live entertainment in the winter as, at the very least, supplementary content. It is no stretch to envision that either Fox Sports1, CBS Sports Network, or NBC Sports Network will begin to cover college hockey more frequently.

I am no fortune teller, college Athletic Director, or television executive, but I do see signs of hope for college hockey.

In the meantime we can enjoy college hockey for what is–an undervalued sport with great pageantry, traditions, and passionate fans.

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