Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

E-mail Roman

Illinois downplays likelihood it will add hockey

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey Updated: September 20, 2010 - 8:20 PM

Penn State has had a lot of success in club hockey, winning seven ACHA national title in 1984, '90, '98 and four in a rwo from 2000-03.

The Nittany Lions have drawn well in a small arena, the Penn State Ice Pavilion (1,350 capacity) and are now making the jump to Division I NCAA hockey.

Two other Big Ten teams have made inquiries about doing the same, But Paul Kelly, executive director of College Hockey, Inc., the education and marketing arm of NCAA hockey, isn't saying which teams.

One team supposedly in the mix is Illinois.

Makes sense if someone is looking at the top club teams. The Illini have played in the ACHA national tournament in 13 of the past 15 years and have made the semifinals seven times. Illinois won the national title in 2005.

So are the Illini a Division I prospect? Publicly, no.

"At this point there is no plan to add men's and women's ice hockey teams," said Kent Brown, the Illini assistant athletic director. "We have a very successful club program but not a facility to host a varsity sport. There's been no discussion."

The Illini men's hockey club team was 27-10-1 last season, losing in the national quarterfinals. Illinois was rated No. 6 in the final ACHA Division I national poll.

The Illinois team plays in an on-campus rink called the Big Pond, or officially the University of Illinois Ice Arena. It has room for 2,000 and home games usually sell out.

It was built in 1931 and has an odd ice surfacw, 195x115, which is even wider than Olympic-size rinks (200x100).

Might be time replace a 79-year-old rink? The Big Ten, according to USCollegeHockey, is already looking at Chicago as the site of a Big Ten hockey tournament in 2015. The Illini might want to be part of that in their home state. Just a thought.

Of course, the Illini don't have anyone to donate $88 million to its hockey program like PSU did.

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT