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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: New commissioner looks to shake up Final Face-Off

The league’s new commissioner would like to see the two-day event gain a little more steam in the upcoming years.

“We have some different plans,” said Aaron Kemp, who became the league commissioner at the start of this month. “We’re looking to host it on a Saturday-Sunday instead of a Friday-Saturday. And we’d like to make it more of an event, a destination for families, friends and youth hockey players.

“And we’re looking to put on more auxiliary events outside of the semifinals and title games.”

Kemp was in Grand Forks on Thursday to visit with the UND administration regarding the Final Face-Off, which was hosted at UND one other time as well.

Kemp was the senior associate athletic director at Mercyhurst before taking the WCHA position. He played college hockey at Canisius and was an assistant coach at the school when it played at UND.

“We got beat up pretty good,” he said, referring to his first visit to The Ralph. “Those were the days of Zach Parise and Matt Greene. That was a pretty good hockey team.”

He coached both men’s and women’s college hockey before taking an administrative role at Mercyhurst.

But the chance to return to hockey as the commissioner of the WCHA was “an opportunity too good to pass up,” he said.

The WCHA, led by Minnesota, Wisconsin and UND, is recognized as the best women’s league in the country. Yet, it has struggled to get all of its top teams into the NCAA tournament.

 That’s one issue, he said the league wants to address.

“We’ve talked as a group how we can get more teams in the tournament and better represent the conference,” said Kemp. “We’re looking at things like scheduling; working with the championships committee; looking a little closer at the RPI and how that works. We’re trying to find ways to put ourselves in a better position.”

Another league goal, added the Ontario native, is to get more women’s WCHA games televised.

Next season’s WCHA Final Face-Off is scheduled March 6-7.

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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