NCAA Hockey Transfer Portal Chaos For Lake Superior State & The CCHA
NCAA Hockey Transfer Portal Chaos For Lake Superior State & The CCHA
With the onset of the new NCAA Transfer Portal, things are getting crazy for Lake Superior State and other teams in the CCHA.
The era of NCAA free agency has swept through college hockey like a thunderclap. Also known as the “Transfer Portal,” it has delivered both pain and pleasure to Division I teams, depending on what side of the portal you are on.
The big winners appear to be brand-name schools like North Dakota and Boston College; the victims are smaller institutions without national followings: WCHA clubs in general, Lake Superior State in particular.
Five of LSSU’s top six scorers will be playing in enemy uniforms next year: Ashton Calder (North Dakota); Pete Veillette (portal); Hampus Erickson (portal); Will Reidell (Ohio State); and Lukas Kailble (Clarkson) are the notable departures from the WCHA playoff champs. It leaves former Laker AD and current team broadcaster Bill Crawford shaking his head.
“Can LSSU continue to finance a program that faces raiding every time it builds a winner?” said Crawford. “I knew the transfer rule changes were going to hurt the little guys.”
Perhaps the most painful Laker loss was Soo native Ashton Calder, the NCAA’s second-leading returning goal scorer (16). In an interview with the Grand Forks Herald, Calder appeared elated at his newfound freedom.
“It felt a little more like free agency than college recruiting,” said Calder, “but it was definitely cool.”
Many of the WCHA’s premier players left for greener pastures, including most of Bowling Green’s Murderer’s Row of Brandon Kruse (Boston College), Max Johnson (Wisconsin), and Will Cullen (Miami). Northern Michigan’s rambunctious sniper Griffin Loughran just jumped into the portal as well.
The CCHA’s new commissioner Don Lucia takes the long view of all the star players abandoning his new circuit.
“It’s going to take a few years to sort itself out,” said Lucia. “You’re going to have kids that end up in the portal with nowhere to go, kids that transfer to another school and find out the grass isn’t greener, their playing time isn’t the same where they left.”
In the short term, however, the schools victimized by the fleeing players will have to rely on college hockey’s tried and true remedy — next man up.
“It’s disappointing (the mass player exit), but at the same time, it opens the door for another player,” said Lucia, who coached both Minnesota and Colorado College to NCAA title games. “I’ve always maintained that your points are dictated by your ice time: you’re on the power play, or you’re not on the power play.”
That will provide little consolation to Crawford and the rest of Laker nation, who find themselves atop scorched earth in their bid to repeat at conference tourney champs. What riles Lucia is the sense that many of these transfers are being orchestrated beforehand by third parties.
“My biggest fear is the tampering issue,” said Lucia, using the dreaded “T” word. “If they find out that something like that does happen, hopefully the NCAA will come down very hard on the school or person that does that.”
Nailing a “family advisor” for arranging a player to fill a gap at another school before jumping into the portal will be nearly impossible based on the resources available to the NCAA to police such acts. Hockey, and other NCAA sports like basketball, faces a fresh new paradigm, one in which the players have freedom to jettison out of negative situations and maximize their four years of eligibility (five for players in the time of COVID-19).
It’s important to keep in mind that prior to this year, players had to pay serious dues to get a chance to play where they are appreciated. Gavin Gould had to spend an entire season as a practice player at Bowling Green after exiting Michigan Tech, and returning to junior hockey between NCAA teams puts a tremendous academic burden on the player.
The new world order is player-centric, and for now, the high-profile schools and conferences with big TV exposure are the winners. The landscape is tilting towards the “haves” and away from the “have nots.”
“The bogeyman is under the bed,” said Lucia. “We don’t really know what’s under. We’ll have a better understanding in two or three years.”
CCHA Schools Transfer Portal: Gains & Losses
*NOTE: Due to COVID-19, all participants in the 2020-21 season were granted an extra year of NCAA eligibility. Graduating seniors at schools without graduate programs (e.g. Lake Superior State) would have no academic incentive to remain at the school.
Below is a list of recorded transfers to this point, outgoing and incoming, in the CCHA.
Data courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald.
Outgoing CCHA Transfers
|NAME||SCHOOL DEPARTING||YEAR||SCHOOL JOINING|
|Ashton Calder||Lake Superior State||Jr.||North Dakota|
|Pete Veillette||Lake Superior State||Jr.||Transfer Portal|
|Lukas Kaelble||Lake Superior State||Sr.*||Clarkson|
|Will Reidell||Lake Superior State||Sr.*||Ohio State|
|Hampus Eriksson||Lake Superior State||Sr.*||Transfer Portal|
|Alexandro Ambrosio||Lake Superior State||Sr.*||Transfer Portal|
|Will Cullen||Bowling Green||Jr.||Miami|
|Tim Theocharidis||Bowling Green||Jr.||Arizona State|
|Connor Ford||Bowling Green||Sr.*||North Dakota|
|Cameron Wright||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Denver|
|Max Johnson||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Wisconsin|
|Eric Dop||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Boston College|
|Brandon Kruse||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Boston College|
|Justin Wells||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Boston College|
|Carson Musser||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Transfer Portal|
|Griffin Loughran||Northern Michigan||Jr.||Transfer Portal|
|Ty Readman||Northern Michigan||Jr.||Transfer Portal|
|John Hawthorne||Northern Michigan||So.||Transfer Portal|
|John Roberts||Northern Michigan||So.||Transfer Portal|
|Mason Palmer||Northern Michigan||So.||Transfer Portal|
|Noah Ganske||Northern Michigan||Fr.||Transfer Portal|
|Zach Driscoll||Bemidji State||Sr.*||North Dakota|
|Darby Gula||Bemidji State||Jr.||Transfer Portal|
|Ethan Gauer||Bemidji State||Fr.||Transfer Portal|
|Carson Bantle||Michigan Tech||Fr.||Wisconsin|
|T.J. Polglaze||Michigan Tech||Jr.||St. Thomas|
|Cooper Watson||Michigan Tech||Sr.*||Transfer Portal|
|Chris Van Os-Shaw||Minnesota State||Jr.||AIC|
|Colby Bukes||Minnesota State||So.||Merrimack|
|Coale Norris||Ferris State||Sr.*||Bowling Green|
|Lucas Finner||Ferris State||Sr.*||Transfer Portal|
|Jake Willets||Ferris State||So.||Lake Superior State|
|Hunter Wendt||Ferris State||Jr.||Transfer Portal|
|Carter McPhail||Ferris State||So.||Transfer Portal|
Incoming CCHA Transfers
|NAME||SCHOOL JOINING||YEAR||SCHOOL DEPARTING|
|Coale Norris||Bowling Green||Sr.*||Ferris State|
|Nathan Burke||Bowling Green||Jr.||Minnesota|
|Gabriel Chicoine||Bowling Green||Jr.||Norwich (Division III)|
|Jake Willets||Lake Superior State||So.||Ferris State|
|Matt Quercia||Michigan Tech||Jr.||Boston|
|Trevor Cosgrove||Northern Michigan||Sr.*||Colgate|
|Zach Krajnick||Minnesota State||Fr.||Alaskas Anchorage|
|T.J. Polglaze||St. Thomas||Jr.||Michigan Tech|
|Nolan Sawchuk||St. Thomas||Jr.||Mass. Lowell|
|John Schmidt||St. Thomas||Jr.||Omaha|
|Peter Thome||St. Thomas||Sr.*||North Dakota|
Tim Rappleye is the author of two books: Jack Parker's Wiseguys and Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review. You can find him on Twitter.
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