College Hockey America! Still looking for a sixth, right?
Well, your prayers may be answered…by Jerry Falwell.
You read right. The same Falwell who put the
fun in religious fundamentalism, questioned the sexuality
of the purple Teletubby, called Muhammad (the founder of
Islam, not the boxer or Bears wide receiver) a terrorist
and accepted a $3.5 million loan from South Korean wingnut
Sun Myung Moon also founded Liberty University in Lynchburg,
Va., more than 30 years ago.
Liberty, which sponsors 18 NCAA Division I
sports, opened a new on-campus ice rink earlier this month,
and the school’s club hockey team played to standing-room-only
crowds of 1,500 fans in its inaugural games at the facility.
Previously, the team commuted 50-plus miles to Roanoke for
practices and home matches. The sparkling digs and local
support has Liberty officials contemplating a varsity hockey
"No question, that's the goal,"
Liberty vice chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. – wonder
how he got that job? – told Lynchburg News &
Advance sportswriter Chris Lang. "It won't be
in the immediate future. I'm not sure how far down the road
it will be. One thing that has to be considered is the potential
revenue a hockey program can bring."
|They may not have Division I
hockey yet, but Liberty fans already make more noise
than those at Michigan State's Munn Ice Arena.
The CHA, which is slated to lose Air Force
to Atlantic Hockey once this season ends and will wave goodbye
to its automatic NCAA Tournament bid if it doesn’t
find a sixth member by 2008-09, has a $250,000 incentive
package on the table to entice a program to join the league.
The compensation would be paid out over a three-year period,
which seems like a decent amount of seed money for a startup.
"We didn't just build a building to stay
where we're at,” the club team’s coach, Kirk
Handy, said to Lang. “If we wanted to stay at the
same level, we might as well have stayed out in Roanoke
and not spent all that money on the facility that we've
In order for this to happen, a few issues
would have to be hashed out – Would the CHA send Liberty
a check or would the university pass a plate among the other
member schools? Would Falwell pal Pat Robertson clear time
on “The 700 Club” for a weekly Doug Woog chalk
talk? Would Falwell’s political action group change
its name from Moral Majority to Moral Odd-Man Rush? –
but the hurdles are minor, and expansion to completely uncharted
territory can’t hurt the sport.
Besides, adding Division I hockey would help
Liberty diversify its student body. There’d be at
least one place on campus you’d be guaranteed to find
a left winger.
We get quite a bit of e-mail from readers
throughout the course of a week. And most of it is pretty
good – people presenting thoughtful arguments why
their team should be higher in the Power Rankings, offering
recruiting updates, asking for our opinion on various topics.
Of course, we've also got a small minority of
e-mailers who, judging from their comments, write in crayon
when they're not banging away at the keyboard. Consider the
following responses to last week's WCHA notebook Bench Minor
criticizing a group of Minnesota fans for their behavior toward
visiting North Dakota.
• "Hmm...no mention of the
Sioux goalie taunting the Gopher crowd. Interesting."
• "Was surprised to see that
nothing was mentioned about the North Dakota goalie shooting
a puck into the crowd after the Friday night game, or the
same goalie going over to the student section at the end
of the game taunting the students."
Now, I wasn't at the game and I don't remember
seeing any of this stuff on TV. But I'm going to speculate
that a few Mariucci Arena denizens were on Sioux goaltender
Phillipe Lamoureux's junk four of the six periods played that
weekend. And I'm fairly confident that whatever gestures Lamoureux
made didn't warrant flinging of garbage at the goalie and
Still, the reaction from the handful of Minnesota
e-mailers was quite interesting. Wonder what they'd have written
had North Dakota fans chucked debris at, say, Danny Irmen
after his memorable "jersey pop" after scoring a
goal against the Sioux at Engelstad Arena in December?
(For the record, I thought Irmen's "jersey
pop" was pretty cool, a genuine display of emotion. And
I liked the antics of legendary Denver goalie Sinuhe Wallinheimo,
NFLer Chad Johnson and Deion Sanders. Fun stuff. The granddaddy
of 'em all, in my opinion, was the ol' "chicken neck"
of 49ers defensive back Merton Hanks.)
In mathematics, multiplying two negative numbers
results in a positive product. Not in life, however. Unfortunately,
too many people subscribe to Homer Simpson's theory that purchasing
a ticket gives them the right – no, the duty –
to make complete asses of themselves.
IT'S GOTTA GO SOMEWHERE...
This section is to the rest
of this column what participants in “Skating With Celebrities”
are to Hollywood stardom.
• In the most recent installment of this column,
Mike Check touched on the wild times at the bachelor pad of
former Michigan State standout and current Atlanta Thrasher
Jim Slater and his roommate, goaltender Michael Garnett. This
time around, the Akron Beacon-Journal presents a
candid glimpse into the life of Columbus Blue Jacket forward
Dan Fritsche, an Ohio native who shares a pad with his brother,
Buckeye forward Tom, and OSU skaters Dominic Maiani and Tom
Goebel, MSU transfer.
feature story, written by Tom Reed, includes an extensive
discussion regarding the cleanliness of the foursome’s
living quarters. Take this gem of a quote from Mary Fritsche,
Dan and Tom’s mother.
“We went down to visit on Sunday before
Christmas and there was not a roll [of toilet paper] in the
place,'' said Mary Fritsche. “They were using paper
Hampshire's Brian Yandle
• Viewers in the Eastern Time Zone who stayed
up late enough to watch Monday’s Anaheim-Los Angeles
tilt on OLN were treated to an insightful rinkside report
(courtesy of former Michigan letterwinner Billy Jaffe) on
former Princeton Tiger-turned-Kings tough guy George Parros.
As a Princeton grad with a degree in economics,
the Washington, Pa., product knows the value of education
and the importance of maximizing one’s earning power
while in his or her salad days. That’s why the 6-foot-5,
232-pound Parros, who has been involved in 10 dustups so far
this season, spent time being tutored on the finer points
of pugilism by one of the all-time greats, former Wayne Gretzky
escort Marty McSorley.
• Earlier this month, The Hockey News
released its list of the game’s 100 most powerful people.
As expected, Cornell alum and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
topped the chart, and CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos made the
cut at no. 81. On its list of up-and-comers, former Michigan
State standout was mentioned, as was Minnesota wunderkind
Phil Kessel. Former Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin was also
tabbed in that group with the tagline, “NCAA coach has
eye on NHL.” I’m a big Dave Poulin fan, but THN
may want to take a mulligan on that one.
• As mentioned in this week’s INCH Podcast,
Ferris State coach Bob Daniels made a heady coaching move
that may have been the difference in the Bulldogs’ 2-1
win at Michigan State Tuesday. With the game tied in the third
period and his team on a 5-on-3 power play, Daniels signaled
for a timeout after his top power play unit came up empty
during a furious flurry of activity in front of Spartan goaltender
Jeff Lerg that included a blast that clanged off the post.
FSU’s main quintet regrouped during the break, won the
ensuing faceoff and held the puck in the zone. The Bulldogs
didn’t score during the two-man advantage, but freshman
Dan Riedel wired a shot from the left point over Lerg’s
shoulder during the 5-on-4 for the eventual game-winner.
By contrast, MSU had a draw to the right of
Ferris State goalie Mitch O’Keefe with a little more
than two minutes left in regulation. Though the game was a
free-flowing affair with long stretches of action without
stoppage and the Spartans had controlled play prior to the
whistle, coach Rick Comley didn’t use his timeout, ostensibly
figuring there would be another break in that end. The Spartans
eventually took it during the next stoppage – with six
seconds left in the period and a faceoff in the neutral zone.
Don’t read the comparison as a criticism
of Comley, since most coaches would’ve done the exact
same thing in that situation. See it as an anecdote about
two coaches and their perceptions regarding their “last
best chance” to win.
• Let the record show that Jan. 24, 2006, as
the day middle age officially settled into my brain after
stumbling upon the biography of Ferris State defenseman Adam
Welch in the team’s media guide. When asked which moment
in history he wished he could’ve witnessed, the sophomore
chose the Miracle on Ice. Pretty soon we'll have players who
know Madonna as the author of terrible children's books.