The Daily Skate: Long Island University to launch D-I men's hockey program. . . in five months

Long Island University Sharks

Long Island University announced Thursday afternoon that it is planning to launch a Division-I men's hockey program that will begin play in 2020-21.

Yes, that's just five months away.

The announcement came out of the blue for even the most plugged-in college hockey people, which raises some red flags, because it makes you wonder how much research was done beforehand.

Other schools have worked with College Hockey Inc., the sport's marketing arm, to plan the launch of a new program. Both Penn State and Arizona State did. It is believed that others who are examining the viability of launching a Division-I men's program, like Illinois, are doing so as well.

Long Island University did not.


The fact that conference administrators were caught off guard, too, also indicates that the school did not contact them for more information on starting a D-I program.

This does not mean it cannot be done. But it does make you wonder how much homework was done before the announcement.

There are several other red flags as well.

The Sharks are planning to have a D-I program up and running in less than five months when, right now, they have no coach, no assistant coaches, no players, no schedule and no home arena.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic could put that start time in jeopardy for every college hockey program, but the fact that the Sharks think that timeline is viable has to be a huge concern for any head coach thinking about taking that job. What kind of operation is the athletic department expecting it to be?

The head coaching hire is going to be critical to legitimizing the program.

LIU doesn't come in with the big financial backing and name recognition like college hockey's last two additions, Penn State and Arizona State. But landing a recognizable head coach would be a big step.

People are already throwing around Dave Starman's name. Starman lives on Long Island and has deep connections in the hockey world, especially in that area. He would be a big name. So would Rico Blasi, the former Miami coach who did a terrific job turning the RedHawks into one of college hockey's powers.


But would they even be interested when it appears there wasn't a ton of planning?

If LIU is able to pull it off, it would be a terrific development for college hockey, a sport that has long feared contraction but has actually expanded over the last decade.

Several media outlets have done a nice job with their coverage of LIU's announcement and the big questions that persist.

Here's a rundown of a few stories to read:

Herter leaves Minnesota Duluth

Perhaps the most unexpected departure in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference became official Thursday.

Jason Herter, the former UND defenseman and current associate head coach at Minnesota Duluth, announced he was stepping away from his position to pursue a new opportunity in the sport . Herter did not expand on that opportunity, but most believe NHL teams will covet him as a scout.

Herter was widely known as an excellent talent evaluator and defenseman coach, helping bring NCAA national championships to Duluth in 2018 and 2019.

This leaves Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State with nearly identical situations as both teams search for an assistant coach.


Both teams have a head coach who was a former defenseman: Scott Sandelin for the Bulldogs and Brett Larson for the Huskies.

Both teams have a young assistant coach who played forward and managed the forwards this past season: Adam Krause (age 28) for the Bulldogs and Nick Oliver (age 28) for the Huskies.

Both teams are trying to replace a very experienced coach who worked with defensemen: Herter, 49, for the Bulldogs and Mike Gibbons, 65, for the Huskies.

While it makes sense for both to find someone with experience coaching defensemen, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. UND went outside the box last year and hired former goalie Karl Goehring as a second assistant. Goehring, who works with the team's blue liners and goalies, helped the Fighting Hawks to a 26-5-4 season.

If you're looking for UND-centric names that could be in the mix, don't count out former captain Matt Smaby. As I wrote two years ago , UND's staff thought extremely highly of him during his time as a student assistant, and he was the runner-up for UND's full-time assistant job last summer to Goehring.

Smaby, a defenseman, spent last season as an assistant in Salzburg, which had one of its best teams in program history.

Hobey finalists through the years

College Hockey Inc., created a graphic this week displaying Hobey Baker Award finalists by school throughout the years.

You can watch how things have changed.


UND has more Hobey finalists than any school at 25 (though it has just two winners -- Tony Hrkac in 1987 and Ryan Duncan in 2007). Boston College is in second at 24, followed by Michigan (22), Michigan State (21) and Minnesota (20).

The most recent UND finalist was Jordan Kawaguchi this season. He finished top three in the voting.

The other fascinating part of this statistic is that Minnesota Duluth has more Hobey winners than any school (six), yet is not in the top 10 all-time in Hobey finalists. The Bulldogs have had 10 finalists and 60 percent have gone on to win.


  • Fargo Force general manager Cary Eades tweeted his thoughts on Force head coach Pierre-Paul Lamoureux's first season: "We are thrilled with the job (Lamoureux) did with the @FargoForce in his 1st yr as Head Coach. Overcame # of injuries & was 7-0-1 & in 2nd place be4 season stopped. Bright future." Lamoureux is a Grand Forks native. Like Smaby, Lamoureux served as a student assistant with the UND men's program, launching his coaching career.
  • Colorado College has yet another player transferring out. Forward Christiano Versich, who had seven points last season as a junior, is in the transfer portal, according to Kate Shefte of the Colorado Springs Gazette . Versich is the third Tiger to enter the transfer portal this offseason, joining forwards Bailey Conger and Sam Renlund. The Tigers also lost forward Erik Middendorf midway through last season. Middendorf returned to junior hockey and is planning to transfer.
  • Forward Noah Cates has been named Minnesota Duluth's captain for this upcoming season. He will become the first junior to wear the 'C' for the Bulldogs since Krause in 2013-14.
  • Friday was the final day at work for longtime Minnesota Duluth sports info director Bob Nygaard, who has been laid off amidst campus-wide budget cuts. The Duluth News Tribune had an excellent story on Nygaard , who was at the school for 37 years.
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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