Season 5, Episodes 23 and 24 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; University of No Hardware and Always Stirring the Pot. This week, Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath and Matt Cavender were joined by the Commissioner of the CCHA, Don Lucia. In these episodes, they discussed Austen Swankler’s eligibility to play at Michigan Tech, Don’s thoughts on the first half of the CCHA season, the officiating in the CCHA, listener questions, Michigan Tech’s series last weekend against Northern Michigan and the upcoming Great Lakes Invitational.
Author’s note: Don’s internet connection was spotty at times during the recording session which is the cause of the audio issues.
The guys started the show discussing whether Swankler would be eligible to play for Michigan Tech for the upcoming Great Lakes Invitational (GLI). Don talked about the NCAA being the deciding body on the issue and that the CCHA has no part in the decision making process. If he is deemed eligible to play by the NCAA, he could start practicing/playing with Michigan Tech once final exams are completed at both Michigan Tech and Bowling Green.
The guys covered a number of different topics on the CCHA over the course of the episodes. Rob started by asking Don for his thoughts on surprises within the league so far. Don talked about Augustana’s start and compared the differences between them and St. Thomas’ beginnings as a D1 schools. The guys talked about Augustana’s ability to use the transfer portal to set their classes up better for the long term.
Tim asked about how many conference games will be played in future schedules. Don talked about keeping the schedule at 26 games and explained the three team “pod” system that will be employed once Augustana is a full league member.
Rob asked Don if there are any big and new plans for the CCHA coming soon. Don talked about the league’s deal with Flo Sports expiring and what possibilities might be available to the league. Rob aired some of his grievances with Flo and the features that it’s missing. The guys talked about some of the different schools’ feeds and how they’ve improved over the years.
The guys discussed how close the competition within the CCHA has been during the first half of the season. Don talked about the difficulty in getting a sweep in any weekend and expressed that he thought the regular season championship will come down to the end. The guys talked about the Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan rivalry and the comradery that comes with being two schools located in the UP.
Tim asked Don for his thoughts on the officiating so far this season in the CCHA with Marco Hunt at the helm. Don joked that he hasn’t heard much from the coaches, which is a good sign. Don talked about Marco’s connections with the BIG and NCHC and how that allowed the CCHA to expand their pool of officials to use. The guys talked about upcoming changes to the high stick rule that are increasingly likely to be adopted by the NCAA. The guys also discussed the new NCAA allowance for a 3rd paid assistant on the hockey teams.
Later in the show once Don had left, the guys re-visited the conversation about the first half of the CCHA season and discussed it more in-depth among themselves. Rob thought the standings were nut and Matt thought the league was pure excitement to this point. All of the guys agreed the league was disappointing on a national scale.
There were several listener questions that came in prior to the guys recording. One asked Don if he preferred waffles or pancakes.
A second asked Don if he thought a new conference might be created with the recent influx of D1 hockey teams, and how that might affect the NCAA Tournament. Don did not think a new conference would be created any time soon and also didn’t think the NCAA Tournament would be affected given the high ration of college hockey teams that make the Tournament currently. Don also brought up the possible Title IX implications to a new league being created.
A third listener question asked Don if there was a way that the CCHA could help it’s league schools schedule non-conference games in the middle of the season, rather than all at the beginning. Don talked about how the schedules are created for each school and the difficulty in finding non-conference games after Christmas when many of the leagues are into the thick of their league schedules.
Mildcat series review
All of the guys applauded the atmosphere in the Mac during Friday’s game. Matt was happy to see the guys play well on Friday and wanted to throw away the tape from Saturday’s game. The guys talked about the major penalties that were/were not called on the weekend and Matt expressed his frustration that a player can receive game misconduct penalties in two straight games and still be allowed to play in the third. Rob thought that the major on Northern Michigan was a good call and involved contact to the head.
The guys spent some time discussing the Michigan Tech players that have been getting ice time on special teams. Tim thought that certain players should be getting more penalty kill time in order to allow the more skilled forwards to rest. Dustin thought that it was simply a matter of having the best players on the ice during special teams situations. The guys looked into some of the Time On Ice information from recent games and had a discussion on whether some players should be getting extra shifts or not.
The Great Lakes Invitational
Most of the rest of the show focused on the upcoming GLI in Grand Rapids, Mich. The guys talked about the possibility of Swankler being eligible to play for Michigan Tech. Matt talked about his feelings on Swankler. Matt talked at length about his predictions for the tournament and thought that Tech had the third best odds and that it was Michigan State’s tournament to lose. Matt also talked about the number of Michigan Tech fans that show up to the GLI every year. All of the guys agreed with Matt that Tech will have a tough time winning the tournament. The guys had a discussion on how the World Junior Championships will affect the GLI and Tim pointed out that Michigan State will likely be down several of their top players.
At the very end of the show, the guys discussed how much time Max Vayrynen will play the rest of the year. Matt hoped that he’d get 50% of the starts but thought 25-30% would be more likely. Tim didn’t think Max would get 25%. Dustin joked about wanting to see Michael Morelli in net at some point.
Cut for time
This week’s cut content for Patrons is approximately 11 minutes long. There was a discussion on possible conference expansion. Don talked about sending CCHA officials to Alaska to help those schools officiate their games. The guys talked about recording on Zoom. Tim got frustrated at the Packers and Dustin talked about not hitting his bets.
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