By Ray Biggs
D3hockey.com Managing Editor
We hope everyone is enjoying their offseason so far, and the D3hockey.com team has spent most of that time catching up on some of the other facets of life after a busy winter.
Now it's time to get back to work. With just over a month passing since the end of the season, and the coaches' meetings now wrapped up from Naples, Florida, I figured now was as good of a time as any to chime in to recap what has happened thus far, and add in some additional items that we either originally missed, or just have not been touched on yet.
- Our most popular offseason item, the Division III Men's Commitment List, is currently in production. It will be turned loose when it is felt a sufficient amount of names have turned up and those names have been entered. If you have ones to add that have not yet been publicized by your junior organization or league, email us at email@example.com. Using that address specifically limits the number of times we have to play staff email tag, so utilizing it is appreciated. Welcome to Division III!
- If your schedule is finalized, let us know and pass it along if you are able to so we can at least begin to get them entered in our system. Anything we get is a huge contribution towards getting next season ready.
- Division II team pages will resurface at some point this Summer if all goes according to plan.
Fore"site" is 2020, 2022
- On April 18th, the NCAA announced the upcoming four year host cycle for the men's championship from 2019-2022. Buffalo State was awarded the 2020 championship with a bid that included the downtown HarborCenter facility that is tied in to the KeyBank Arena Complex that serves as the home of the Buffalo Sabres. The 2022 championship will return to Lake Placid, NY under the supervision of Plattsburgh and the Olympic Regional Development Authority at Herb Brooks Arena. The odd number years will revert to a format from years past, with a participating team's home rink set to host the championship.
Arrivals and Departures
- Nazareth announced the formation of a new women's program earlier this month after posting the coaching position in weeks prior. The application portal has since closed, meaning the process is at least inching ahead towards identifying their successful candidate.
- Chatham did not retain Jason Evans as women's head coach, and the school stayed in the confines of the league by tapping Utica's Jessica Newstrom, who formerly played at Bethel, to be its next coach. Newstrom was the head coach of Utica's JV program for the past two seasons.
- Castleton women's coach DJ Fimiani stepped down in March, and a successor has yet to be named. When their next coach is identified, it will be the third different head coach for the Spartans in a three year period, and the fourth in five seasons.
- On the Division II front, Southern New Hampshire and St. Anselm are both looking for their next permanent head coach. At St. A's, Ed Seney left in march after a 15 year run and has been replaced on an interim basis by Larry Rocha. Southern New Hampshire has no hockey staff members presently listed in their directory after they parted ways with Ken Hutchins.
- On March 31st, Tim Crowley was promoted from interim head coach to a permanent head coaching position with the Elmira women's program. Crowley led the Soaring Eagles into this year's NCAA quarterfinals.
- Two recent Division III graduates from the D3hockey.com era have gotten looks at the American Hockey League level since we crowned a champion in Utica. Norwich's William Pelletier turned heads with the Chicago Blackhawks affiliate Rockford Icehogs, recording seven points in eight games before a non-playoff season concluded for Rockford. Former Buffalo State goaltender Kevin Carr was brought in to the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins organization on a tryout agreement to serve as the team's backup goaltender during their first round Calder Cup playoff series after spending the season with the now-defunct Alaska Aces of the ECHL. Carr did not appear in a game as the Penguins were eliminated three games to two by the Providence Bruins.
- The Southern Professional Hockey League title was won by the Macon Mayhem, and the kings of the popular Division III player landing spot included former Hobart defenseman Ryan Michel, Manhattanville's Mark Rivera and Buffalo State's Dennis Sicard on the final playoff roster.
Women's Topics from Naples
- As previously understood and expected, coaches were informed a 9th team will be added to the 2018 NCAA Division III tournament, and a 10th team may not be too far behind. The Division III membership had enough teams for the 9th bid this past season under the current access ratio standard, which dictates one berth for every 6.5 teams playing the sport pending NCAA approval. King's, Wilkes, Suffolk, Nazareth, Trine, and Aurora all plan to add the sport within the next two seasons, which would bump the membership total to at least 65 and allow for that 10th bid.
- The coaches also tested the waters on the possibility of an eventual merger between the Division I and Division III women's championships. Support was not unanimous in the room, but coaches in the discussion have told D3hockey.com that majority support from the Division III side was not out of the question, and that the Division I coaches were not against the possibility of exploring a combined championship in the future.
Men's Topics from Naples
- The big item coaches came back to us with is that again, there is another push for regular season overtime to shift to a five minute four-on-four period after a previous proposal was put on hold last July. The proposal has held traction on the grounds that the open ice would allow for more scoring opportunities, and would also provide greater consistency in overtime procedures across all divisions and conferences in college hockey. The NCAA Hockey Rules Committee and the Playing Rules Oversight Panel would both have to approve the proposal for it to take effect.
- Congratulations are in order for Oswego goaltending coach Pete Sears, who was bestowed the 2017 John Mariucci Award by the AHCA at the convention. According to the AHCA, the award is given to a secondary school association coach who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and enthusiasm of former University of Minnesota coach John Mariucci. Sears won the award tied back to his days at Oswego High School, where he was the head coach from 1979 to 1997.
- Previously, Middlebury's Chip Kenyon was awarded the association's Lou Lamoriello award, which is given by the retired member coaches of the AHCA to a former college coach or player who has distinuguished themselves in their profession after college. Kenyon was the principal benefactor who put up funding for the arena that now bears his name at Middlebury.