Share This Page

College hockey hopes to keep the attention

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Robert Morris' Brandon Denham celebrates his third-period goal against Miami goaltender Ryan McKay during the Three Rivers Classic final at Consol Energy Center on Dec. 28. (Chaz Palla | Tribune Review)
Miami goaltender Ryan McKay makes a second period save on Robert Morris' Andrew Blazek during the fianl of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center Dec. 29, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

Penguins season-ticket holder Chris Misechok will have double the games to watch and stats to track now that the NHL season is set to begin.

A casual fan of college hockey before the lockout, Misechok had turned to the college game to get his hockey fix. Despite the lockout ending, Misechok said he plans to follow NCAA hockey, watching Friday night games on NBC Sports Network and keeping an eye on the NCAA website.

“I picked up college hockey because of the lockout. I missed the speed of the game,” said Misechok, 23, a Pitt graduate student. “Watching football games with those huddles is just not the same.”

The challenge for college hockey teams is retaining that interest.

• More than 22,400 fans filled Consol Energy Center over two days late last month for the Three Rivers Classic, in which Robert Morris, Penn State, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State competed.

• The Robert Morris men's team set a program attendance record by drawing 1,589 for a game against Ohio State on Dec. 8.

• The Colonials also sold out their season opener, hiking attendance by 40 percent.

• The RMU men's team is playing to 90 percent capacity at Island Sports Center, and the women's team has drawn 1,403 in its first five games, up 43 percent through the same period last season.

Like Misechok, Aaron Troy, 27, of the North Hills turned to college hockey to fill the NHL void. Troy said he had been a casual fan, but his interest picked up this season.

“I would go to one or two Robert Morris games in previous years,” he said, “but the lockout definitely increased my interest.”

RMU men's coach Derek Schooley said it was a matter of people needing hockey.

“I hope that they saw the product of college hockey and liked it and continue to follow it,” he said. “I hope they now have a favorite college hockey team and believe in college hockey as one of the best sports in the NCAA.

“There's a lot more excitement right now from causal hockey fans.”

Nate Ewell, who runs College Hockey Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to promoting men's Division I hockey, said the lockout gave college hockey a chance to shine.

Interest and attention are hard to quantify, Ewell said, but he has seen an increase in media coverage, with more games being televised and streamed online.

Misechok and Troy said they will continue to follow college hockey even with the NHL opening in about a week. Troy already was revving up for his next Robert Morris game.

Misechok said that although he will spend most of his time following the Penguins, he also plans to keep tabs on the college scene.

“This has kind of grown on me,” he said. “Plus, if you follow it close, you can keep up with which college guys are top prospects. You can follow who the Pens players are, and that's cool.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at mguza@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.