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MichPieGuy
03-23-2014, 09:43 AM
Well, Friends, the first season of the grand experiment that is the NCHC is now history. I thought I'd get a thread going so that supporters of the 8 schools could opine on what they did and didn't like. Forming what in effect is a "super conference," with all 8 schools committed to strong D-1 hockey and with varying but overall high levels of winning traditions and desires to compete and win consistently, means that many went home disappointed in Year One. My "Likes"--Because everyone at the party made the commitment to compete to win, there were few throwaway games during the conference season. I think the "new WCHA" got hit with more than its share of those. With teams continually knocking each other back close to the .500 level because of league balance, it could be argued that the regular season title was FAR more important in this league, because it became a known early that league parity would likely cost it seats at the NCAA dance. Also as a "Like," pretty decent coverage by CBS SN for the league...although better balance in getting all 8 schools on would be a need-for-improvement area. "Dislikes"--As noted above, a league that is strong top-to-bottom is going to restrict NCAA berths. Denver's serendipitous run at the Frozen Faceoff (as would have a finished run by WMU or Miami) added a third team--barely, thanks to Wisco's late rally to stop ssso (=somestateschoolinohio). The loss of the rivalries with UM-MSU-Minny-Wisco is a dislike, too...but the Big 10-12-14 schools made their own bed on that one and everyone else is an unwilling recipient. As a continuing dislike, it's also apparent that none of the eight travel particularly well with their fan base, notably excepting the Still Sioux. Unless games are played literally in the back yard of the Minnesota schools. The league's fan bases need to get more engaged for the league to add national recognition and get the all-important media exposure. That well-played Denver-WMU semifinal could have been played in a TV studio in front of a small audience with canned applause and provided a similar atmosphere to what happened at Target Center.

I think the league has a bright future, and do truly think that this octet adds a lot of entertainment value to the regular season, perhaps the best outcome of league realignment. Props to the Cloudies for taking the regular season title and the Pio's for the post-season run. Hoping all 3 post-season entrants can have a long dance. Would love to see Denver send the Boston's home early if that predicted pairing actually becomes cast in stone by the selection committee.

Biddco
03-23-2014, 10:08 AM
Worst part? WCHA fans whining about the conference and beating a dead horse when talking about it's formation.

letchcj
03-23-2014, 12:01 PM
Disclaimer: I attended UND and I'm a Sioux fan out and out. I was born in and raised in the St Paul metro area and continue to live here. I also have had to put with Gopher fixation in the metro area my entire life. All that being said, I want to see college hockey grow and see NCHC and WCHA be successful. I don't want to see this leagues become the AHA.

NCHC Tournament Thoughts.
I attended both sessions of the NCHC tournament. I hadn't been in the Target center for awhile but it's clear they need to do something with the Target Center.
I was on the glass and it was obvious they we're having problems with the ice. A guy would come and take temp readings between every period. Constantly fixing holes for net pegs. Delays during the game to fix the ice. Next up, the food. Holy bleep was it bad. I'm not talking about cost (I expect to overpay) but the quality. They literally had the worst chick strips I have ever eaten. How can you screw up chicken strips? My wife's hamburger was terrible also. Not to mention the french fries tasted like they were cooked in diesel fuel. Last but least the place is just dated and worn. The condition of the seats are terrible.
Other NCHC tourney comments. Not much going on at the fan fun zone on the Target Plaza. My son and I walked through and there was no one there. I understand the weather didn't help but they need to move as much of that into the Target Center. In March the weather is too iffy in Minnesota to have it outside.
Also, with the time between games people are certainly going to visit the booths inside. Not so much if you have to go outside.
Also what the hell was the deal with Rolaids. They we're handing them out like candy yesterday. My son and I each we're given a box of them.
They also need to get non Sioux fans at the game. I'm guessing 90% of the people at the Championship game we're Sioux fans. I think the NCHC really needs to work with the Alumni associations and try and get the local Alumni to attend. Some other suggestions for attendance. Give tickets to the local youth hockey associations. They had plenty of space in the upper deck of Target Center to give tickets away. They'll make plenty of money on the food and drink.
I doubt the Big10 would be interested, but I think NCHC and WCHA need to work on coordinating their tournaments when they're both playing in the Twin Cities.

General NCHC comments.
Get more games on TV. This needs to be a top priority. With the Goph's on the BigTen network, they're is no reason FoxSports North can pickup more St. Cloud and Duluth games.
After that they need a consolidated streaming package. If they're going to have limited TV coverage they quality streaming. The WCHA did this, why not the NCHC?
The NCHC and WCHA media people really needs to work on the local media in the Twin Cities. I'm not sure what they need to do but they have to get out do what ever they can to get discussion going on both leagues. Hearing the local hacks talk it's pretty clear they don't who is what league and anything about the two leagues. I understand that Goph's dominate the market, but they're are tons of UND, Mankato, Duluth, Bemidji and St. Cloud fans in this market. To a lesser degree but a number of the Michigan schools in the WCHA have local alumni. With all these schools, hockey is their number 1 sport. They really need to promote it in the market where they have Alumni.

Pink Pony
03-23-2014, 12:08 PM
I. like that finally the leftovers were able to get together to have one heck of party in Grand Rapids.

MichPieGuy
03-23-2014, 12:17 PM
I. like that finally the leftovers were able to get together to have one heck of party in Grand Rapids.
In a great venue, nicely sized for college hockey. Am hoping that VanAndel will get a chance to be in the rotation for NCHC FF in the years ahead. Congrats to Minny State and Ferris for making the dance and good luck to both.

purpleinnebraska
03-23-2014, 12:49 PM
Next up, the food. Holy bleep was it bad.

Also what the hell was the deal with Rolaids. They we're handing them out like candy yesterday. My son and I each we're given a box of them.

I can't believe you missed the obvious connection.

vizoroo
03-23-2014, 01:04 PM
From Letchj
1. Obvious they we're having problems with the ice Constantly fixing holes for net pegs. Delays during the game to fix the ice.
2, Next up, the food. Holy bleep was it bad. I'm not talking about cost (I expect to overpay) but the quality.
3. Also what the hell was the deal with Rolaids. They we're handing them out like candy yesterday. My son and I each we're given a box of them.
4. Get more games on TV

Ice--Would add the boards were far from consistent. The North end was .don't even know how to describe...splatter?
Rolaids see #2 :p
#4 agree
.


From Mich PieGuy
1. a league that is strong top-to-bottom is going to restrict NCAA berths. Denver's serendipitous run at the Frozen Faceoff (as would have a finished run by WMU or Miami) added a third team--barely, thanks to Wisco's late rally to stop ssso (=somestateschoolinohio). You mean the school that has to put "The" in front to prevent confusion;)

2. The loss of the rivalries with UM-MSU-Minny-Wisco is a dislike, too...
agree
3. The league's fan bases need to get more engaged for the league to add national recognition and get the all-important media exposure
agree
4. Props to the Cloudies for taking the regular season title and the Pio's for the post-season run. Hoping all 3 post-season entrants can have a long dance. Would love to see Denver send the Boston's home early
Thank you and me too


Biddy says, "Worst part? WCHA fans whining about the conference and beating a dead horse when talking about it's formation".
Second that!

I suggest Palm Springs for the tournament. (less than an hour away):D We will have to convince one of the Indian casinos to convert to a rink with appropriate seating. After a winter like this one, who wouldn't take the opportunity for hockey and fun in the sun.:cool:

Red Cows
03-23-2014, 01:16 PM
More teams didn't get in the dance here because of the so-so non-conference record the NCHC had (51-45-16). The non-conference schedule destroyed UNO's season in Pairwise. If these teams don't play well out of conference after beating up on each other then they are doomed to sit home come tournament time. The seasons where the NCHC wins 60% or better of their out of conference games will be the seasons where you might see 4 teams or perhaps even more than that in good/great years getting in.

Top to bottom, no matter what anybody says, this is the best league in college hockey. The 1st conference tourney provided ample evidence of the truth of that statement.

So, I feel very comfortable in saying, for example, no matter how North Dakota fares in the upcoming NCAA tourney, I bet they acquit themselves very well. I bet Wisconsin isn't exactly relishing the opportunity to play them, 4 seed or not. I think the opponent(s) of any NCHC NCAA tourney team has a right to be somewhat fearful of them. And, ought to be.

Of course, now we'll go out and lay an egg.

thebrain
03-23-2014, 04:19 PM
A massive renovation to Target Center is out for bids right now.

They had the best ice makers is the business, Winter Classic, Olympics, and so forth.

Biddco
03-23-2014, 04:26 PM
Disclaimer: I attended UND and I'm a Sioux fan out and out. I was born in and raised in the St Paul metro area and continue to live here. I also have had to put with Gopher fixation in the metro area my entire life. All that being said, I want to see college hockey grow and see NCHC and WCHA be successful. I don't want to see this leagues become the AHA.

NCHC Tournament Thoughts.
I attended both sessions of the NCHC tournament. I hadn't been in the Target center for awhile but it's clear they need to do something with the Target Center.
I was on the glass and it was obvious they we're having problems with the ice. A guy would come and take temp readings between every period. Constantly fixing holes for net pegs. Delays during the game to fix the ice. Next up, the food. Holy bleep was it bad. I'm not talking about cost (I expect to overpay) but the quality. They literally had the worst chick strips I have ever eaten. How can you screw up chicken strips? My wife's hamburger was terrible also. Not to mention the french fries tasted like they were cooked in diesel fuel. Last but least the place is just dated and worn. The condition of the seats are terrible.
Other NCHC tourney comments. Not much going on at the fan fun zone on the Target Plaza. My son and I walked through and there was no one there. I understand the weather didn't help but they need to move as much of that into the Target Center. In March the weather is too iffy in Minnesota to have it outside.
Also, with the time between games people are certainly going to visit the booths inside. Not so much if you have to go outside.
Also what the hell was the deal with Rolaids. They we're handing them out like candy yesterday. My son and I each we're given a box of them.
They also need to get non Sioux fans at the game. I'm guessing 90% of the people at the Championship game we're Sioux fans. I think the NCHC really needs to work with the Alumni associations and try and get the local Alumni to attend. Some other suggestions for attendance. Give tickets to the local youth hockey associations. They had plenty of space in the upper deck of Target Center to give tickets away. They'll make plenty of money on the food and drink.
I doubt the Big10 would be interested, but I think NCHC and WCHA need to work on coordinating their tournaments when they're both playing in the Twin Cities.

General NCHC comments.
Get more games on TV. This needs to be a top priority. With the Goph's on the BigTen network, they're is no reason FoxSports North can pickup more St. Cloud and Duluth games.
After that they need a consolidated streaming package. If they're going to have limited TV coverage they quality streaming. The WCHA did this, why not the NCHC?
The NCHC and WCHA media people really needs to work on the local media in the Twin Cities. I'm not sure what they need to do but they have to get out do what ever they can to get discussion going on both leagues. Hearing the local hacks talk it's pretty clear they don't who is what league and anything about the two leagues. I understand that Goph's dominate the market, but they're are tons of UND, Mankato, Duluth, Bemidji and St. Cloud fans in this market. To a lesser degree but a number of the Michigan schools in the WCHA have local alumni. With all these schools, hockey is their number 1 sport. They really need to promote it in the market where they have Alumni.

Agreed on the TV deal...but Fenton basically said they don't make any money on it so I don't know if they will get any more games. Obviously a streaming package like the WCHA would be great but it won't happen yet because of all the different streaming deals the individual schools have made.

Fan Fest was deserted...I'd guess they won't do that next year.

Agreed on the food. It was really bad. tX and Target Field have really upped the having good food at sporting event things. As for attendance...don't think it will be any better unless UMD and SCSU make it.

When you mention that local people don't know what the NCHC is...well let winning and marketing help that out. It will take some time for this league to get name recognition.

thebrain
03-23-2014, 04:37 PM
Same company, Delaware North, does the food at Target Center as Target Field. It has improved over the past couple years. The paninis and Cubans were good, and the offerings have grown too. I suspect changes once the renovation is complete.

Biddco
03-23-2014, 04:40 PM
Same company, Delaware North, does the food at Target Center as Target Field. It has improved over the past couple years. The paninis and Cubans were good, and the offerings have grown too. I suspect changes once the renovation is complete.
I had the Panini and it was okay...wasn't the freshest thing ever. Probably should have had a cuban or pork sandwich. I probably had enough time to go to Pizza Luce or somewhere to get food between games as well.

Wreckincrew
03-23-2014, 07:54 PM
Also, the Target Center security was over the top. From the body-cavity searches to get in to the 2 different groups of people that got kicked out for "banging on the glass" to the 2 guys who were removed for yelling at a player in the penalty box. My only guess is that the typical crowd for Wolves games must be pretty sketchy.

The Rube
03-23-2014, 09:09 PM
Also, the Target Center security was over the top. From the body-cavity searches to get in to the 2 different groups of people that got kicked out for "banging on the glass" to the 2 guys who were removed for yelling at a player in the penalty box. My only guess is that the typical crowd for Wolves games must be pretty sketchy.

If true, that is terrible. The Xcel security does a normal pat-down, and the only thing I heard about ushers/etc was a confiscation of a big "B1G MISTAKE" banner, and they didn't even take it away until the 3rd period (this is according to an Xcel employee that stopped by the tailgate).

As for tv contracts, you'd be better off trying to do something like UND had in the past, or that St Cloud has now. To get on FSN wouldn't help, if it's even possible at all (they have a major stake, it might be a majority share of the BTN). If MN isn't on FSN, it's because of:
BTN showing the game
Wild is on FSN
Timberpuppies are on FSN

The dates would be few and far between enough to not make it worth a contract. If I were the NCHC, I'd really be gunning for other sports channels like CBSSports. You still would have to fight the bouncyball and college football games during their seasons, but you'd have a better chance than FSN.

First Time, Long Time
03-23-2014, 09:09 PM
This league is going to be a battle every year.
I certainly like the outcome this season.
My only complaint is consistency of officiating, but that's with every league, but there are a couple guys who I don't think should be back next season.

HuskyNation
03-23-2014, 10:29 PM
This league is going to be a battle every year.
I certainly like the outcome this season.
My only complaint is consistency of officiating, but that's with every league, but there are a couple guys who I don't think should be back next season.

You want some of our terrible former CCHA refs? :D

SJHovey
03-24-2014, 09:24 AM
I'm going to limit my thoughts to the Frozen Faceoff, as opposed to the first year of the league as a whole.

All in all I'd call the first tournament in Minneapolis a success, with a fair amount of room to improve. I cut the league some slack because it is a new league. Granted, they've had a couple of years to get organized, but unlike the WCHA and Big Ten, which at least had an existing administrative infrastructure in place, the NCHC had to start from scratch.

As I posted before the tournament, the Target Center isn't the horrible place to watch hockey that gopher plans proclaim. It isn't designed for hockey, like Xcel, but it will serve nicely.

From an admitted amateur point of view, it did appear they had some problems with the ice as the players had a tough time getting the puck to settle. The boards/glass, especially on the north end, created some crazy dump-ins. But those seem to be problems that can be resolved.

I thought the league at least put the effort in to keep the fans engaged.

Some comments, in addition to those made by others.

1. The food wasn't great, but most stadium food isn't, especially given what you pay. The BBQ beef/pork in the NE corner was fine, although messy. My policy on stadium food (if you have to eat there) is find one thing you like, and stick with it.

2. Was disappointed in the souvenir opportunities. I saw one little t-shirt stand, with a terrible selection, and the stand wasn't even on the main concourse, it was one below. I had intended to at least buy a t-shirt or hat at the first tournament, but that was a failure.

3. Don't sell upper deck seats until you fill up the lower bowl. This league isn't going to fill the Target Center. Put the bands in the lower bowl, where the fans are. If you shut off the upper bowl this past weekend, the lower bowl would have had a very solid crowd.

4. I'd put a freeze on ticket prices, at least for a couple of years until a brand can be built. People will come to events where they'll have a good time, and I think fans will have a good time in Minneapolis. But let's make it affordable. It's hard to start at old WCHA prices when you are not giving them the same product.

Tipsy McStagger
03-24-2014, 11:00 AM
I thought the ticket prices were a decent value. $130 for 4 games is 32.50 per game for the lower level seats, which to me isn't bad. If you paid the $60 for upper level seats you could have ended up sitting on the lower level for $15 per game.

To piggyback off what SJHovey said: maybe going somewhere in the $80-$100 range for the lower level tickets and dropping the upper level seats to $40-$50 would increase ticket sales, but I don't think this tournament is going to draw in many casual fans. Most people are probably fans of the teams in the tournament and are willing to pay the current prices to see their team play, but don't have much interest in watching the other teams unless they are already downtown for the tournament. Count me among that group. I was offered free tickets to the Saturday games, but with basketball going on I would rather stay home and watch that with friends than go downtown and spend 6-8 hours watching hockey games that don't include my favorite team.

The Final Five was different. It was more of a weekend thing. You were basically in St. Paul from Thursday til Sunday regardless of the outcome of the games. downtown St. Paul basically became a WCHA town for that weekend. I don't know if downtown Minneapolis (or even a small area of it) can ever become that for the NCHC, but it is going to take at least a few years for rivalries to form and relationships between groups of fans to form.

SCSU BlackandRed
03-24-2014, 02:51 PM
I thought the ticket prices were a decent value. $130 for 4 games is 32.50 per game for the lower level seats, which to me isn't bad. If you paid the $60 for upper level seats you could have ended up sitting on the lower level for $15 per game.

To piggyback off what SJHovey said: maybe going somewhere in the $80-$100 range for the lower level tickets and dropping the upper level seats to $40-$50 would increase ticket sales, but I don't think this tournament is going to draw in many casual fans. Most people are probably fans of the teams in the tournament and are willing to pay the current prices to see their team play, but don't have much interest in watching the other teams unless they are already downtown for the tournament. Count me among that group. I was offered free tickets to the Saturday games, but with basketball going on I would rather stay home and watch that with friends than go downtown and spend 6-8 hours watching hockey games that don't include my favorite team.

The Final Five was different. It was more of a weekend thing. You were basically in St. Paul from Thursday til Sunday regardless of the outcome of the games. downtown St. Paul basically became a WCHA town for that weekend. I don't know if downtown Minneapolis (or even a small area of it) can ever become that for the NCHC, but it is going to take at least a few years for rivalries to form and relationships between groups of fans to form.

Tipsy, you are totally correct. I completely spaced the $60 option for upper level for the tourney (discussion in a different thread). I somehow was thinking it was the same for either level. Yes, it is going to take a few years for this to develop. Just getting SCSU or UMD (or both) will help with attendance here. I do think marketing upper level packages at an even further reduced level towards hockey associations (families) would be great to help drive a little incremental attendance and wouldn't hurt the league long-term from an interest perspective. Maybe get this in a different weekend from the Big Ten tourney but that's unlikely to happen.

The league was ultra-competitive this year so delivering on that expectation that I had going in. Made you miss the couple of weekends per year where you'd get a few of the weaker conference teams where you knew you'd get at least a win and a tie. Those weren't really there with the teams in this league. Going to need to see some better out-of-conference performance if we ever want to see more than 2-3 teams get in the big dance because they'll beat the crap out of each other weekly in conference games.

Go SCSU, No Dak and Denver!

lmg6841
03-24-2014, 04:58 PM
Your conference sounds delicious. Also, I would like to see some OOC set up between you Colorado teams and RIT... for purely selfish reasons. That is all.