Season 3 Episode 15 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; The Paul Tregurtha. This week, Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath and Matt Cavender were joined by Michigan Tech’s Athletic Director, Dr. Suzanne Sanregret. This week was the second part of a double episode the guys recorded last week (the first part can be found here). This week, the guys discussed the NCAA’s name, image, likeness (NIL) rules and how it has affected Michigan Tech athletes, future facility improvement plans, Suzanne’s nephews coming to play hockey at Tech, the possibility of Houghton hosting a four team tournament, and the potential for Houghton to host an NCAA hockey regional weekend.


Tim asked Suzanne about the NCAA’s new NIL policy which began over the summer and whether Michigan Tech athletes have been affected. Suzanne said only a small percentage of the student athletes currently have deals, and two or three of them are hockey players. She said that overall it has been pretty small and inconsequential. Suzanne also discussed the fact that Michigan Tech is still deciding if they want to sign with a firm to help manage the NIL requests, but pointed out that doing so can be quite expensive. She also talked about Tech not having any true “influencers” that would rise to big deals.

Facility Improvement Initiatives

Suzanne told the guys that she just recently finalized the plans with the engineers and architects for some new facility upgrades and renovations. According to Suzanne, the areas that will be worked on include renovations to the locker, weight and sports medicine rooms. Suzanne said that the weight room will be extended for shooting machines and other drill equipment.

Suzanne also talked about Rail 555 seating being a home run and that there were several season ticket packages sold there. She also discussed the waitlist on the suites, and how moving the beer garden to the ice level has also been a hit. Tim then asked about adding more suites if there’s waitlist, to which Suzanne said that there were plans for it but they have been shelved for the time being. Suzanne then spent some time talking about why they were shelved, which included the difficulty in getting nearly 30% of the Houghton population to the rink for games. Suzanne also talked about the University’s plan to get to ten thousand students enrolled, which would then give the University more reason to expand the MacInnes to accommodate the extra student interest.

Tim then asked if Michigan Tech’s master plan included adding a women’s D1 hockey program. Suzanne said that at this point the master plan is strictly for facilities, then added that she does get this question often. She then talked about the difficulties of adding women’s hockey to Tech athletics.

The Family Connection

Suzanne then spent a couple minutes talking about her nephews that have both committed to playing hockey at Tech: Kyle Kukkonen and Trevor Kukkonen. She was excited and relived when they both verbally committed to Tech, and she talked about them coming to visit her in Houghton for years as kids. Rob then brought up their names, which lead to a rabbit hole discussion on some of the pronunciation oddities that Tech hockey players (mostly the Pietilla’s) have had throughout the years.

Houghton Tournament Potential

The guys then asked Suzanne if Tech has ever considered hosting a four team tournament at some point in the season. She said that they have, but added it would be very difficult to do. Suzanne then discussed the financial difficulties associated with hosting a tournament, as well as the accommodations that are required. Houghton no longer has a full service catering hotel, which Suzanne said is a problem for CCHA conference events, let alone a greater D1 tournament. Suzanne then spent some time talking about Tech playing games against teams out east, such as Clarkson and St. Lawrence, and Rob added thoughts about the one for one’s being a big advantage to Tech and smaller schools.

The guys then asked about the potential for hosting an NCAA regional, especially now that the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis. is seemingly a no go. Suzanne talked about the fact that the hockey tournament is one of only three championships that actually makes money for the NCAA, and how the NCAA has even greater facility requirements that Houghton cannot meet. The guys and Suzanne then spent a couple minutes talking about some of the behind-the-scenes aspects to running an NCAA tournament.

Tim then asked if there’s been any talk within the CCHA about trying to do something collectively to host a regional, such as sharing the burden of any potential revenue loss. Suzanne thought that will become a conversation in the future especially now that the CCHA has its feet on the ground and staff in the office. Suzanne then shared her thoughts on how well the CCHA has done to this point, which all of the guys agreed.

Cut for time

This week’s cut time for Patrons is approximately 11 minutes long. Dustin, Rob and Matt talked with Suzanne about the beer they were drinking. The guys discussed the passion that Suzanne has shown for Michigan Tech athletics throughout the years, and how she was instrumental in turning the hockey program around. The guys also shared their thoughts on the end of Mel Pearson’s tenure as coach, and provided other examples where coaches left their schools on good terms.

Learn More

For additional information and more episode liner notes, check out our episode overview on Tech Hockey Guide. To make sure we can afford all our fancy equipment we purchased for the podcast and the THG website in general, please check out our patreon page and consider joining. Patrons at our Black Level or above receive an authentic MTU jersey patch and access to extra podcast content including extended versions of our other episodes. This week’s extended version is about 74 minutes.

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