By Nick Knapper,
Great things often start small.
The Fargo-Moorhead area has three colleges, none of which has a Division I hockey program. Moorhead High School has a rich history of hockey and has even produced some players now in the National Hockey League. Although MSUM does not have a Division I team, it does have a club hockey team.
This winter is the first official season for the MSUM club hockey team. They have 17 games this season. These players want this to be more than just a club team; they would like to see it develop into a Division I team.
“Arizona State started with a club hockey team,” said Chris Ronning, a student at MSUM and member of the team. “Eventually they just turned into a Division I program.”
Minnesota is known as the “State of Hockey,” so it’s not surprising that most Minnesotans grow up playing the game.
“It’s something fun to do in college,” said MSUM student Mike Hajostek. “We grew up playing hockey, so it is basically implanted in our DNA.”
MSUM started thinking about introducing a hockey team in 2009. Athletic Director Doug Peters said that MSUM needed to raise $37 million, so the university would not have to worry about the “year-to-year challenge” of paying for the program. The athletic department was unable to raise the money by the strict deadline they had set.
“We didn’t want it to drag out,” said Peters. “We wanted this to be a quick decision.”
Peters knows students and the community were a little disappointed. He does feel that people took it well because the athletic department was transparent through the whole process.
“Personally, I love to play hockey,” said MSUM student-athlete, Alexis Kennedy. “To be able to watch it and have it at MSUM would be pretty cool.”
For MSUM to have another shot at making a Division I hockey team, they need to have a few things go their way. First, there must be an open spot for a hockey team in one of the conferences. Next, MSUM would have to raise the money for the program and decide what other sport is going to be moved to Division I as well. Finally, the athletic department would have to decide if the program could be self-sufficient.
“It would be awesome if we got another chance,” said Peters. “It’s something that will always be in the back of my mind.”
For now, the club hockey team will work hard at every practice and game in hopes of bringing MSUM a Division I hockey program. Their season continues into the spring semester.