%22In+every+Utahn%2C+there+is+a+hockey+fan+dying+to+get+out.%22+%28Courtesy+Wikimedia+Commons%29

"In every Utahn, there is a hockey fan dying to get out." (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Dominate Winter Sports with Hockey

Take a look outside. Like it or not, Utah is a winter state. With the best snow on earth, we are steeped in the tradition of the bone-chilling cold. In keeping with this tradition, the Utah Ski team took home its twelfth national championship trophy in March of 2019 besting the likes of Vermont and Colorado. However, in order to plant a drum and feather flag at the peak of winter supremacy, we need to fill a glaring void in winter athletics. Our attention must head downhill from the slopes to the ice.

The current University of Utah hockey team was formed for the 2006-2007 season, playing in NCAA Division II. It took a few seasons to get to a winning record but from 2011 to 2015 the Utes posted a 118-39-4 record, winning their first Pac-8 title in 2013 followed by back to back titles in 2015 and 2016. 

Following these victories the team transitioned to Division I of the ACHA, leaving the NCAA. The move was sold as a move up for the team but came with glaring demerits. For one, players could no longer receive scholarships but instead had to pay dues averaging $2,000, while “club” hockey players still find their way to the NHL, the ACHA is still seen as second-rate compared to the NCAA. In order to continue to capitalize on past success, Utah must place itself in a position to attract top recruits and coaching resources which is a harder sell outside the NCAA. 

Laying the infrastructure for a return to the NCAA wouldn’t be a long shot. The U added a women’s hockey team this season and inducting both into the NCAA would avoid title IX hurdles. Further, a number of our Pac-12 rivals are waiting for us on the ice including Oregon, Arizona State, Washington and USC.

Last, a fanbase is already established for Utah hockey. According to the organization, Utah Hockey has 700 current season ticket holders. The U owes it to fans to back the team and represent for Utah on NCAA ice.

In every Utahn, there is a hockey fan dying to get out. The U must embrace our winter tradition and lay the groundwork for NCAA hockey here in Utah.

 

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@TheChrony

 

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