It has been a nice summer in the Midwest, so if you’ve been out and about, enjoying the weather and not following all of college hockey’s movement in the offseason, here are 10 things to know heading into this fall:
1. NCHC aims at fifth-straight crown
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has won four consecutive NCAA national championships -- UND in 2016, Denver in 2017 and Minnesota Duluth in 2018 and 2019.
If an NCHC team wins the national title again this year, it would match the record for most consecutive NCAA titles by one conference since 1965.
The old WCHA did it three times in that span -- from 2002-06 (Minnesota, Minnesota, Denver, Denver, Wisconsin), from 1979-83 (Minnesota, UND, Wisconsin, UND, Wisconsin) and from 1973-77 (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan Tech, Minnesota, Wisconsin).
2. AHA adopts the 3x3 OT
The majority of college hockey conferences will use 3-on-3 overtime to break ties for conference points only this season.
Atlantic Hockey is the latest to adopt the 3-on-3, joining the NCHC, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and the Big Ten. All four of those leagues will play an NCAA-mandated five-minute, 5-on-5 overtime. If nobody scores, it will go into a five-minute, 3-on-3. If nobody scores there, they go into a sudden death shootout for a bonus conference point.
Hockey East and the ECAC are the only two leagues that don’t use the 3-on-3.
Next summer, the NCHC and commissioner Josh Fenton will push for 3-on-3 overtimes to become standard across college hockey.
3. Three new faces
There were 17 coaching changes during the summers of 2017 and 2018. This summer was a relatively quiet one on that front.
There are only three new head coaches out of the 60 college programs. They are Chris Bergeron at Miami, North Dakota native Brent Brekke at St. Lawrence and Ty Eigner at Bowling Green.
Two of those programs will go head-to-head this weekend.
Bergeron's first game at Miami will be against his old team, Bowling Green. He'll go head-to-head with his assistant coach of the last nine years, Eigner, on Sunday in Oxford, Ohio.
4. High-end rookies
Nearly a third of the top 34 picks in the 2019 NHL Draft are entering college hockey this fall.
Those 11 players are No. 5 pick Alex Turcotte (Wisconsin, L.A. Kings), No. 9 pick Trevor Zegras (BU, Anaheim Ducks), No. 12 pick Matthew Boldy (BC, Minnesota Wild), No. 13 pick Spencer Knight (BC, Florida Panthers), No. 14 pick Cam York (Michigan, Philadelphia Flyers), No. 15 pick Cole Caufield (Wisconsin, Montreal Canadiens), No. 16 pick Alex Newhook (BC, Colorado Avalanche), No. 30 pick John Beecher (Michigan, Boston Bruins), No. 31 pick Ryan Johnson (Minnesota, Buffalo Sabres), No. 32 pick Shane Pinto (UND, Ottawa Senators) and No. 34 pick Bobby Brink (Denver, Philadelphia Flyers).
5. No Hobey finalists are back
It’s a rarity, but zero of the 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists are back in college hockey this season.
Four of them were seniors -- St. Cloud State’s Patrick Newell and Jimmy Schuldt, Ohio State’s Mason Jobst and Quinnipiac’s Chase Priske.
The other six -- Mercyhurst’s Joe Duszak, Harvard’s Adam Fox, Michigan State’s Taro Hirose, Michigan’s Quinn Hughes, UMass’s Cale Makar (the winner) and Clarkson’s Nico Sturm -- all turned pro.
That should make this year’s race wide open.
6. ASU still looking for a home
Arizona State still hasn’t found conference affiliation.
Buoyed by last year’s trip to the NCAA tournament, the Sun Devils may be more likely to find a future home.
The Sun Devils have held off the WCHA, which wants Arizona State, in hopes of joining the NCHC. But Hockey East also could be an option for Arizona State, which would use one of the many direct flights from Phoenix to Boston to travel out East.
Last season, Arizona State made trips to State College, Pa., Ithaca, N.Y., Rochester, N.Y., Princeton, N.J., and Boston twice.
This season, the Sun Devils will travel to Brown and Clarkson.
7. NCHC to mic referees
The NCHC will become the first conference to have referees use portable microphones to announce penalties and review decisions.
The league experimented with it last season in an exhibition game in Grand Forks and it received rave reviews.
8. Another WCHA breakup imminent
This summer, seven WCHA programs announced they were pulling out of the league and forming their own conference: Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, MSU-Mankato and Northern Michigan.
That leaves Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Anchorage and Alabama Huntsville as the odd teams out.
The group of seven teams are aiming at beginning play in their new league in 2021-22.
So, there will be two awkward seasons left, just like the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons after UND, Denver, Colorado College, Minnesota Duluth, Omaha and St. Cloud State announced they were leaving the WCHA to start the NCHC.
9. Alaska schools on the brink
The two Alaska programs -- Anchorage and Fairbanks -- are safe for another year. But beyond that, things don’t look promising.
Massive budget cuts in Alaska could even force the closing of one of the schools.
Alaska Anchorage also announced this offseason that it would no longer play home games at Sullivan Arena, its home for decades. Instead, the Seawolves will move to Wells Fargo Sports Complex, a much smaller rink.
10. Hockey East hit hard
According to College Hockey Inc., a total of 50 players turned pro early. Nearly half of them -- 23 to be exact -- came from Hockey East.
Boston University and Providence lost four, Maine lost three, Boston College, UMass, UMass-Lowell, Northeastern and UConn lost two and Vermont and Merrimack each lost one.
The only Hockey East team that didn’t lose anyone early was New Hampshire.
If you're looking for a reminder of who left early, the complete list is below.
List of 2019 college hockey early signings
Joey Daccord, Arizona State, junior, goalie (OTT)
Alex Leclerc, Colorado College, junior, goalie (ECHL)
Filip Larsson, Denver, freshman, goalie (DET)
Jonathan Gruden, Miami, freshman, forward (OTT)
Mikey Anderson, Duluth, soph, defenseman (LAK)
Riley Tufte, Duluth, junior, forward (DAL)
Ludvig Hoff, North Dakota, junior, forward (Norway)
Matej Tomek, Omaha, junior, goalie (Slovakia)
Blake Lizotte, SCSU, soph, forward (LAK)
Ryan Poehling, SCSU, junior, forward (MTL)
Big Ten (6)
Quinn Hughes, Michigan, soph, defenseman (VAN)
Josh Norris, Michigan, soph, forward (OTT)
Taro Hirose, Michigan State, junior, forward (DET)
Rem Pitlick, Minnesota, junior, forward (NSH)
Mat Robson, Minnesota, junior, goalie (MIN)
Andrew Peeke, Notre Dame, junior, defenseman (CBJ)
Hockey East (23)
Oliver Wahlstrom, Boston College, freshman, forward (NYI)
Joseph Woll, Boston College, junior, goalie (TOR)
Dante Fabbro, Boston University, junior, defenseman (NSH)
Joel Farabee, Boston University, freshman, forward (PHI)
Chad Krys, Boston University, junior, defenseman (CHI)
Jake Oettinger, Boston University, junior, goalie (DAL)
Adam Huska, UConn, junior, goalie (NYR)
Philip Nyberg, UConn, junior, defenseman (Sweden)
Alexis Binner, Maine, soph, defenseman (Sweden)
Brady Keeper, Maine, soph, defenseman (FLA)
Chase Pearson, Maine, junior, forward (DET)
Mario Ferraro, UMass, soph, defenseman (SJS)
Cale Makar, UMass, soph, defenseman (COL)
Mattias Goransson, UMass Lowell, junior, defenseman (Sweden)
Ryan Lohin, UMass Lowell, junior, forward (TBL)
Jonathan Kovasevic, Merrimack, junior, defenseman (WPG)
Jeremy Davies, Northeastern, junior, defenseman (NJD)
Cayden Primeau, Northeastern, soph, goalie (MTL)
Kasper Bjorkqvist, Providence, junior, forward (PIT)
Jacob Bryson, Providence, junior, defenseman (BUF)
Brandon Duhaime, Providence, junior, forward (MIN)
Josh Wilkins, Providence, junior, forward (NSH)
Jake Massie, Vermont, junior, defenseman (FLA)
Ryan Bednard, Bowling Green, junior, goalie (FLA)
Lukas Craggs, Bowling Green, junior, forward (NSH)
Craig Pelfey, Ferris State, junior, forward (ECHL)
Cooper Zech, Ferris State, freshman, defenseman (AHL)
Jake Kielly, Clarkson, junior, goalie (VAN)
Nico Sturm, Clarkson, junior, forward (MIN)
John Marino, Harvard, junior, defenseman (PIT)
Brogan Rafferty, Quinnipiac, junior, defenseman (VAN)
Andrew Shortridge, Quinnipiac, junior, goalie (SJS)
Liam Morgan, Union, soph, forward (Northern Ireland)
Atlantic Hockey (1)
Joseph Duszak, Mercyhurst, junior, defenseman (TOR)