Suddenly the college hockey scene in Buffalo is exploding.
Nick Veronica first broke the story about a joint venture between the Sabres and Canisius to build a rink for the Golden Griffins and Sabres to share. That story has continued to gain momentum recently as Veronica has kept abreast to the situation.
In addition, news also broke that Canisius and Niagara could be part of a coalition to part ways with Atlantic Hockey to join the recently fractured CCHA. Mercyhurst and Robert Morris were the other two schools in on the original conversation.
Then, suddenly, today a set of Tweets hit the Twitterverse that made the original CCHA story even more interesting (again s/t to 3MI for the timely RT).
According to @BruceCiskie UB was part of a group that met with Bowling Green discussing hockey. The other four teams were the ones who previously met with the CCHA. He did point out that there is no indication where the talks may be leading for the future of UB’s program, or the group as a whole.
While UB has a strong club program within the ACHA, they do not currently have the proper facilities to house an NCAA Division I program. That, coupled with the additional capital needed to start a men’s and women’s hockey program, will make this an uphill battle for the university. Not to mention, they may have sat in on the meeting and decided that the expense of a hockey program is not one they wish to incur at this time.
For me this is a no brainer. It appears that Canisius is on the verge of getting their own home rink and Niagara has been a steady program over the past decade. UB has sat on the sidelines and built basketball and football programs that have barely nosed past mediocrity. Meanwhile, the college hockey world continues to pass them by and an extremely fertile recruiting region sits at their fingertips.
While the implosion of the WCHA and CCHA has cast a pall on the collegiate hockey landscape, it could breed a renaissance for college hockey in WNY. Canisius has been middling in weak conferences will little results for quite a while and Niagara bowed their head to competing with the nation’s elite when they moved to Atlantic Hockey. With UB potentially throwing their hat in the ring and the CCHA looking at four, possibly five, new members, the product on the ice at WNYs universities could be scary good.
All I can think about is the potential of a renewed Punch Imlach Hockey Classic with UB, Canisius and Niagara hosting national powerhouses on a yearly basis. The return of the Frozen Four could be even more realistic and even the idea of an annual collegiate outdoor classic at the ballpark could even be in the cards.
After all, anything is possible in Hockey Heaven.