The Dean's List

Jeff Sauer – the sixth-winningest coach in college history – writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College "The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer retired at the end of the 2001-02 season. He was the 2003 Snooks Kelley Award winner for contributions to U.S. hockey and ranked 16th on INCH's list of the all-time greatest college hockey coaches.

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November 17, 2004
The Dean's List by Jeff Sauer

Now that the World Series is over and the election has been decided, the idle sports fan may notice that there is no National Hockey League.

While the lockout of NHL is potentially very bad for pro hockey, it serves as a great opportunity to spotlight the game of college hockey.

It gives fans who have never given the college game a chance to find out what the rest of us have discovered, that the college games' enthusiasm, spirit and level of play gives it a quality that the pros can't match.

Hopefully, fans will give the college game a peek. Thanks to the CSTV Game of the Week, fans get their hockey fix in rinks like Ralph Englestad Arena and Yost Arena, instead of the United Center or Madison Square Garden. Regional cable television like Fox and NESN are starting to televise more games and national coverage of the college game is increasing.

ESPN SportsCenter is starting to show more highlights especially in its' "Play of the Day" features. I think more people are finding out how entertaining the college game can be.

I would encourage hockey fans to give the women's college game a look as well. They will find a style of play that is different from the men's game, and they will be surprised at the work ethic of all teams and the skill level of some teams like Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Harvard and Wisconsin.

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Hopefully, if the increased exposure continues, it will help both the men's and women's games grow. Currently there are over 200 non-varsity programs playing hockey right now. Some of them draw big crowds to their games.

It would be great if some of these programs considered going Division I. Places like Navy, Penn State, Iowa State and some West Coast schools would be great additions to our game, which this year added Robert Morris from Pittsburgh to Division I competition.

In this era of Title IX and cost reductions, there needs to be a movement to promote and encourage expansion in our game to keep it strong. We have made advancements with the 16 team men's tournament, but college hockey can't sit back. The game still loses schools, like Findlay last year when the Ohio institution dropped the sport.

Hopefully many more eyes will discover the sport of college hockey, thanks to the void left by the NHL. And hopefully that exposure will lead to more schools wanting to give the college game a chance to grow.

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