The first time Alex Heinert heard rumblings about the possibility of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference bringing all eight league members to one destination to reel off games in December, he began imagining possibilities.

Heinert, the Midco Sports Network play-by-play announcer, didn't know where the NCHC Pod would be at that time -- or if it would happen at all -- but he began brainstorming with colleagues about the possibility of broadcasting many, if not all, of the games.

After more than a month of behind-the-scenes work, it became a reality.

Midco Sports Network announced Tuesday it broadcast all 40 games from the NCHC Pod in Baxter Arena, which will open Dec. 1 and end Dec. 20. UND will play 10 games.

The games will also appear on NCHC.tv.

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The network's top hockey team -- Heinert on play-by-play and former UND goalie Jake Brandt on color commentary -- will be on site calling games. They won't be alone, either.

Midco has hired national broadcasters Ben Holden and Dave Starman, who usually call college hockey games on CBS Sports Network, to join the broadcast team for the three-week span and call games from the Pod as well.

Omaha's radio duo of Donny Baarns and David Brisson also are expected to do a couple of games.

"This is a great opportunity for our network to have live content of this quality on every day for the first three weeks in December," Heniert said. "We've had a lot of content with high school, but really, we haven't been able to broadcast college sports since March. Now, we've got the best conference, with the best teams in the country, with some of the best talent in the country. . . it's a huge win for Midco Sports Network, hockey fans and sports fans in general in the Upper Midwest."

Midco Sports Network's Alex Heinert (right), the primary television voice for UND Athletics, films a segment from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Photo courtesy of UND Athletics.
Midco Sports Network's Alex Heinert (right), the primary television voice for UND Athletics, films a segment from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Photo courtesy of UND Athletics.

Midco Sports Network knew it would be too much to ask Heinert and Brandt to try to call all 40 games, so it immediately began looking into hiring other broadcasters. Holden and Starman were at the top of the list.

"I'm super excited about that," Heinert said. "It was always kind of the dream scenario that it would work out for them to come. It's something the league was excited about it. Both Ben and Dave expressed interest. We knew we'd need help to pull off 40 games in 20 days. For Jake and I, that would have been too much. To be able to bring in a second team of that caliber is a great thing. I'm excited to work with those two. To see how they prepare and execute their job is going to be a really cool thing to be a part of."

Heinert said it's possible that the announcing teams will be mixed and matched for a couple games.

NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said he's excited about the partnership with Midco.

"The array of broadcasters announcing the games are all names NCHC fans are familiar with and will provide great passion and insight during the 20 days," Fenton said.

Dave Starman (left) and broadcast partner Ben Holden calling a NCHC Frozen Faceoff game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Courtesy photo.
Dave Starman (left) and broadcast partner Ben Holden calling a NCHC Frozen Faceoff game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Courtesy photo.

Midco will have camera operators on site. Some will be local Omaha people. Others will be from the Grand Forks crew.

The production crew will not be on site, though.

Midco will bring a van, which crew members nickname Lewis, to Baxter Arena. Using fiber connections, Lewis will allow games to be directed and produced at Midco studios in Grand Forks, Fargo and Sioux Falls.

The league also announced game times Tuesday.

Weekday games will be played at 3:35 and 7:35 p.m. Triple-headers on Saturdays and Sundays will be 12:05 p.m., 4:05 p.m. and 8:05 p.m.

NCHC Pod schedule

Tuesday, Dec. 1

Colorado College vs. Omaha, 3:35 p.m.

St. Cloud State vs. Western Michigan, 7:35 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 2

Miami vs. North Dakota, 3:35 p.m.

Denver vs. Minnesota Duluth, 7:35 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 3

Colorado College vs. St. Cloud State, 3:35 p.m.

Omaha vs. Western Michigan, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 4

Minnesota Duluth vs. Miami, 3:35 p.m.

North Dakota vs. Denver, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5

Western Michigan vs. Colorado College, 12:05 p.m.

Miami vs. Omaha, 4:05 p.m.

St. Cloud State vs. Denver, 8:05 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 6

Minnesota Duluth vs. Colorado College, 12:05 p.m.

North Dakota vs. Western Michigan, 4:05 p.m.

Omaha vs. St. Cloud State, 8:05 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 7

No games

Tuesday, Dec. 8

Denver vs. North Dakota, 3:35 p.m.

Miami vs. Minnesota Duluth, 7:35 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Western Michigan vs. St. Cloud State, 3:35 p.m.

Omaha vs. Colorado College, 7:35 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 10

Denver vs. Miami, 3:35 p.m.

North Dakota vs. Minnesota Duluth, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 11

Colorado College vs. Western Michigan, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12

St. Cloud State vs. North Dakota, 12:05 p.m.

Omaha vs. Miami, 4:05 p.m.

Minnesota Duluth vs. Denver, 8:05 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 13

Western Michigan vs. North Dakota, 12:05 p.m.

St. Cloud State vs. Omaha, 4:05 p.m.

Colorado College vs. Minnesota Duluth, 8:05 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 14

No games

Tuesday, Dec. 15

Denver vs. Western Michigan, 3:35 p.m.

Miami vs. Colorado College, 7:35 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 16

Omaha vs. Minnesota Duluth, 3:35 p.m.

North Dakota vs. St. Cloud State, 7:35 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 17

Miami vs. Denver, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 18

Western Michigan vs. Omaha, 3:35 p.m.

St. Cloud State vs. Colorado College, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 19

Minnesota Duluth vs. North Dakota, 12:05 p.m.

Western Michigan vs. Denver, 4:05 p.m.

Colorado College vs. Miami, 8:05 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 20

Minnesota Duluth vs. Omaha, 12:05 p.m.

Denver vs. St. Cloud State, 4:05 p.m.

North Dakota vs. Miami, 8:05 p.m.