This past week, Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald wrote an excellent column on moving the NCAA Regional games away from neutral sites and back on campus. For some hockey coaches, this is a controversial subject. Why must we play NCAA regional hockey games in empty, quiet arenas? Wouldn’t it be better to play these games in packed arenas on the campus of the higher seeds?
Schlossman’s column made a lot of arguments on why we need to move the regional games back on campus. The article proved to be very popular on X. With that said, we need to convince the athletic directors and coaches to make this happen. Some of the coaches are already on board.
Time to showcase the College Hockey Tournament, on campus, and capitalize on all the momentum we have created. We need to prioritize the growth of the game, the “student-athlete experience”, and the fans. https://t.co/FlHO6i6rN6
— David Carle (@DCarleDU) January 16, 2024
On Wednesday, after the UND hockey press conference, I asked UND head coach Brad Berry if he favored moving the NCAA Regional playoffs on campus—Berry is on board with the idea.
As Schlossman mentioned in his column, four college hockey conferences are now playing their league playoffs entirely at home sites. The NCHC will move to campus arenas after the next two seasons. That could have a hand in making the idea more palatable to the naysayers.
“Our league will be going to the home sites,” Berry said. Other leagues have done that. There are only a couple of leagues that haven’t. If we can get everybody on board to do the home sites for the playoff tournaments for their respective leagues, then I think there’s familiarity with that.
“It’s a situation where we want to ensure it’s a great experience for the student-athletes, and we want to ensure that your body of work lets you earn the right to play at home. You’re seeing that now in other sports in college athletics go that way.”
Would Coach Berry’s team rather play in Minnesota or Duluth than in an empty arena in Bridgeport? Of course, he would.
“A hundred percent, Berry said. “That goes into the part of earning it. If we’re a lower seed and we have to go into a building. We already do that. We go into environments like that during the regular season; it shouldn’t be different in the playoffs. You have to win a game on the road. It’s going to provide a better atmosphere and a better experience for the college student-athletes.”
It would be fun to be a fly on the wall during the NCAA’s hockey summer meetings. I am sure there will still be schools that don’t want to move the NCAA regional games on campus, but it’s well past time to make this happen.