MINNEAPOLIS — In Minnesota, we generally start seeing ice that you can skate on outside sometime in November or December, not on the hottest days of midsummer. But in this “nothing is normal” time of coronavirus pandemic, the first appearance of ice in late June can only be a good thing.
With the University of Minnesota campus set to officially begin reopening on July 1, facilities officials there confirmed to The Rink Live that ice-making has begun at Ridder Arena, the 3,400-seat home of the Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey program. Although if you’re looking to get out and skate there anytime soon, you will need to have a current student ID.
“No camps, no public rentals, and there’s not going to be ice in Mariucci, but when our men and women get back, they’ll have the opportunity to skate at Ridder,” said Gophers women’s hockey coach Brad Frost, saying that there are still many, many precautions being taken. “For the health and safety of everyone involved, sports teams are coming back at different times.”
The NCAA has extended the “no contact” period, where coaches are not allowed to actively recruit, meaning this has been an off-season unlike any other for Frost so far.
“It’s been a summer, actually,” he said. “With the dead period continuing to get extended, I’m not on the road recruiting, not doing my camps, not doing other people’s camps, not doing USA Hockey camps. It’s been good, but it’s been very different and tough in other ways.”
When the college sports seasons were shut down on March 12 in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, Frost’s team was preparing to host WCHA rival Ohio State in a first round NCAA Division I playoff game at Ridder. With players getting ready to return to that rink, he said there is cautious optimism that this is a positive development on the road to hockey’s return.
“It’s a sign, but we’re a long way from normalcy too,” Frost said. “When they do come back, having to be tested and sheltering in place and contact tracing and things like that, there’s a whole lot that goes into it versus just showing up and skating on a random Tuesday.”
Herb Brooks golf tournament filling fast
As of Tuesday, June 30, fewer than a dozen tee times remained for the Herb Brooks Celebrity Golf Classic, which is scheduled for Monday, July 27 at Victory Links in Blaine. The event, which started in 2005, is a fundraiser for the Herb Brooks Foundation, named after the former Gophers, St. Cloud State, pro and Miracle on Ice coach.
The foundation runs after school hockey clinics year-round, designed to introduce more kids to the game, as well as other hockey educational programming. The golf event features celebrities from throughout the hockey world, although the list of big names may be in some flux with the NHL hoping to restart around that time as well.
“Because of the uncertainty with the way the NHL is, we might not have some of the guys we’ve had in the past, like Jake Guentzel or Travis Boyd or Brock Nelson,” said Jon Cherney, the executive director of the foundation. “But we will have a fair amount of the Miracle on Ice guys. Mike Ramsey and his son, Jack, will play. We’ve got Rob McLanahan, Dave Christian and Buzz Schneider, and it will be a very well-attended event.”
Tee times cost $1,500 for foursomes including three golfers and a celebrity to join them. In a nod to the ongoing pandemic, the event originally required each golfer to ride in their own cart, unless they would like to share with a member of the same household, but some of those restrictions are being loosened.
“As some of the statewide restrictions have eased, we are easing some of the restrictions as well,” Cherney said, adding that they expect to have 36 foursomes and be completely sold out well in advance of the event. “If people are comfortable riding two in a cart, we’re going to allow that, and if they want to ride individually, they can do that as well.”
Additional information and registration is available on the foundation website.
CCHA gets a live stream partner, already
We likely will not see a schedule for the inaugural season of the new Central Collegiate Hockey Association for close to a year, but fans of Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State University-Mankato and Northern Michigan already know where they can watch the games if they cannot get to the rink.
On Tuesday, Texas-based FloSports announced that they have entered into a multi-year broadcast agreement with the CCHA to live stream all of that league’s regular season and playoff games. Preseason games are also included in the agreement.
FloSports currently has a similar arrangement with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, from which all seven of the CCHA’s teams are migrating, so for fans there will be little change.
“It’s great to step in as the new leader and have this relationship already in place,” said Don Lucia, who was named the CCHA’s first commissioner earlier in June. “I have obviously been around college hockey for a long time and I am extremely impressed with what FloSports has done to elevate and promote the game by making it more accessible to our fan base throughout the season.”
In addition to the WCHA, FloSports also live streams games from Atlantic Hockey. Subscription information is available at FloHockey.tv.