college hockey and a question for you

Friday night, I watched college hockey (via a so-so online feed) for the first time ever. THE FIRST TIME EVER. I couldn't see it online till the NCAA semifinals, and I didn't get to any games in person this season.

I haven't written about college hockey (or any college sports now that I think about it) on this blog yet because, well, I don't have teams I follow yet. I went to an arts and communications college that didn't have sports, so there's no alma mater to root for. in football and basketball I have a nostalgic fondness for the Iowa State Cyclones because they're the team where I grew up (and now, I'll pause for the time it takes to explain to all non-Iowans which school and city is ISU and which is Iowa.
.....................................................................) ISU does have hockey too, but I'm talking about one of the teams in the major hockey conferences (I'm still learning this, bear with me).

it was easy to choose which NHL and AHL teams to follow, since I've got good ones in my city--though alas most Blackhawks fans I know are Rockford IceHogs fans because they're the Hawks affiliate, and not fans of the Wolves, the local team. (that's angst for another time. but I do like/try to follow the IceHogs too.) it was easy to choose favorite Eastern teams too. and in other hockey leagues, I just like seeing whatever games I can (and buying whatever merchandise with amusing logos I can).

but college hockey? if neither the college I went to nor the one I grew up near qualify, and there isn't a major team in the Chicago area, it's a bit more work (but that's exciting!). (I should note, this is more about picking a team to follow NEXT season; not about picking a fave for the Frozen Four).

some thoughts: I know a lot of Boston University fans. (and a Lowell fan--so I know lots of Boston College haters.) Notre Dame and Wisconsin are the closest teams at this level to Chicago. Wisconsin and North Dakota have recent connections to the Blackhawks, so I know Hawks fans following them. I like the idea of rooting for a Rust Belt (Great Lakes/western/upstate New York) college team since I love that part of the country, and I can't be a fan of Detroit or Buffalo in the NHL due to following Chicago and Boston. (I also really like Denver and Minneapolis as cities and can't root for their NHL teams either.) and that's about the extent of my thoughts on this so far. any opinions would be welcome.

as for the first game I saw, Wisconsin defeating Vermont? I wish I'd watched closer, but I was getting ready for the trip I'm on now. right as I was writing the Blackhawks-Blue Jackets recap (where the phrase "a little chippy" was used), the Wisconsin game was described as being..."a little chippy." that seemed like a good omen during my first college game...

I watched a little of the St. Cloud-Northern Michigan game on after (but that was a rerun and I'd already heard the result). I seem to get a lot of screenshots of goalies...


the mel said...

UIC used to have a team - the Flames. They were pretty good from what I remember and played in CCHA. They folded in 1996 - right before I transferred there. I swear I must be the kiss of death. I don't have a team I root for either but I'm pulling for UW since it's close and I like Madison.

Sal said...

Ah, yes...the UIC Flames. They used to televise some of the games on SportsChannel (which is now CSN).

Former Blackhawks goalie Darren Pang--who is now the color commentator for the St. Louis Blues--got his start doing color for the Flames.

I also own a Flames puck. Ironically, it cost me more than the ticket to a game.

Aubrey said...

As far as the two schools nearest you, neither would be a bad choice. Wisconsin sends a lot of players to the NHL. Their games seem to have a great atmosphere and they have some really awesome merchandise. North Dakota and Minnesota are also a cut above in the apparel department.

Notre Dame is on pretty much the same level competitively as Ohio State. They’re a decent program with a few alums in the NHL. They’ve had the occasional great season, but they’re not a powerhouse like Wisconsin or Boston College. Not yet anyway. They can also be fun for their sheer, unadulterated Catholic-ness. Nearly all of their players have Irish or Italian surnames and they travel with a priest. Whenever we’re at an OSU/ND game the first person to spot the priest wins a pretzel.

If, once you get further into your research, you have any CCHA related questions I’d be happy to help. I know a little bit about the WCHA too, but next to zero about teams to the Northeast.

Regardless of who you pick, even if it’s Miami or Michigan, you have a standing invitation to see a Buckeye game (and possibly Bruins' defensive prospect Matt Bartkowski) on my dime if it ever works out that you’re in town on a game day.

Oops, sorry. I've hijacked your comments!

k of c said...

Thanks for the comments all! And don't worry about writing too much, Aubrey, you cover this a lot on your blog! If I'd gotten into all this a little sooner I'd have tried to get to a Buckeye game.

I knew a bit about the Flames--sounds like they vanished around the time I moved to Chicago.

Wisconsin is a good pick (I like Madison too, and have a Flickr contact who lives there and has been to games), it just seemed too easy! I'll definitely pay more attention to them next year (and to the Frozen Four of course).

Now I just need someone from the east coast weighing in...