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Published April 08, 2009, 12:00 AM

McFeely: No harm in MSUM's push for D-I hockey

It is the longest of long shots – peace in the Middle East might be a more modest goal – but now is no time to step on the big dreams of Minnesota State Moorhead. You go, Doug and Edna, and let’s see where this nutty idea takes you.

By: Mike McFeely, INFORUM

It is the longest of long shots – peace in the Middle East might be a more modest goal – but now is no time to step on the big dreams of Minnesota State Moorhead. You go, Doug and Edna, and let’s see where this nutty idea takes you.

Division I hockey at MSUM? Those words go together like lemon juice and corn flakes, but that is the proposal being bandied about at the heretofore Little School That Couldn’t.

Led by athletic director Doug Peters and President Edna Szymanski, the Dragons are talking about starting a top-level hockey program from scratch and possibly joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. That is the league in which North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin compete.

Could we see the Gophers playing the Dragons in a weekend series at the Urban Plains Center in the next few years? Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor and give a urine sample just for writing that sentence.

Reality check time: The odds of this actually happening, of the Dragons actually fielding a Division I hockey program and playing in the WCHA, are so in excess of astronomical that it is not even worth discussing beyond the hallucinatory level. Drop two acids and call me in the morning.

But there is no harm in trying, and the little Dragons should pursue this road as far as it takes them. If it dead-ends in two weeks, so be it. If it ends up at center ice in Engelstad Arena in three years, Doug and Edna can laugh all the way to the fundraising bank.

For those dismissing MSUM’s talk as little more than a stunt or a joke, remember the position from which the Dragons are looking. It ain’t easy being irrelevant and this might be MSUM’s one big chance at fame and fortune. Are you going to squash the dream before the poor Dragons can even pursue it?

There were those – cough, cough … we won’t mention any names – who thought North Dakota State was nuts for going Division I. That seems to have worked out OK for Joe and boys. Lesson learned on this end – if the Dragons want to take their shot, so be it.

Besides, believe it or not, MSUM does have a few things to its advantage in this improbable adventure.

There is a privileged class in this community that wants to see a Division I hockey program come hell or high sticking. These are folks who approached the Dragons about hockey. Hey, if people are begging to give you money, why would you turn them down?

Second, the WCHA is not exactly slamming the door on the Dragons’ big idea. The 10-team league will consider adding Bemidji State soon and will need another school if the Beavers are given the nod. Options are limited, strengthening MSUM’s odds.

Also, the Urban Plains Center would dearly love to have a WCHA member as a lead tenant. Since NDSU is off the table, MSUM would do just fine. A Division I hockey program makes fundraising and building that elusive four-sheet practice facility that much easier for the arena.

Go for it, Doug and Edna. No harm, no foul. That’s a basketball term, but it fits perfectly as MSUM explores its impossible dream.


Forum columnist Mike McFeely can be heard from 1-2 p.m. Monday through Friday on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5580 or mmcfeely@forumcomm.com. McFeely’s blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/mcfeely

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