Dainton Signs With Springfield; Big Ten Makes It Official

Paul Dainton will not have to travel far to start his pro career as he signed an amateur tryout with the Springfield Falcons today.  Springfield also signed Northeastern’s Wade MacLeod.  The Falcons have nine games left and, as usual, will not make the playoffs.  You’ll remember that the Falcons also gave former goaltender Gabe Winer a chance after his UMass career, playing two games for them before hanging up the pads and heading off to law school.

Chase Langeraap scored his first pro goal in only his second game for the South Carolina Stringrays.

The Big 10 officially announced that they’ll be forming their own conference starting in 2013-14.  It seems that most of the college hockey community is meeting this announcement with dismay, although it’s been rumored for years and was essentially guaranteed ever since Penn State announced they were adding hockey.

I certainly understand some of the concerns coming out of the western programs.  Personally I think the WCHA will be fine with schools like North Dakota, Denver, and Colorado College carrying the flag for the league.  Even with Wisconsin and Minnesota having down years recently the WCHA hasn’t lost any of its national standing thanks to the emergence of Duluth and the additions of Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State.

The CCHA’s situation is a little more precarious.  Miami and Notre Dame have established themselves as annual NCAA participants, but the directional Michigans and other lesser schools in the conference are worried that crowds will suffer without annual visits from Michigan and Michigan State.  This could be a legitimate issue.  Or it might not.  One has to wonder if the non-Ivy ECAC schools were worried about the same thing when the New England schools split off to start Hockey East in the early 1980s.  It will also help that the new league is slated to play only 20 conference games and will have plenty of chance to schedule their old CCHA and WCHA foes.  Although that would also require teams like Michigan to actually play a non-conference game away from the friendly confines of Yost.

While there is some risk that schools like Bowling Green and Ferris State could struggle to survive, there’s also a good chance that college hockey could gain strong programs from existing Big 10 schools who look to create their own programs.  College hockey could use more stability and having the large, high-profile state universities (or Northwestern) in the Midwest could help provide that solid foundation in addition to grow the sport into already established college markets.  How great would it be open up those classic college towns like Bloomington or Champaign to the wonder that is college hockey?  Hopefully, that’ll be the consequence of today’s announcement.

The NCAA tournament field was officially announced yesterday.  Boston College will be heading west as a #1 seed.  Merrimack and New Hampshire are both Manchester bound as a 2 seed and 4 seed respectively.  Check back later this week as I make my tourney picks.