I have a dream.
I dream of a day when big-time Division I college hockey is played in the south.
To this you say, “Razor, please.”
To that I retort, “Child, listen.”
To that you snipe, “Uh, water doesn’t freeze much round these parts.”
At which time I respond with….”Right, I agree.” enough.
I get it. Most of you would cynically view this “dream” as merely a pipe dream. And perhaps it is.
But if so, it’s an “off-the-pipe-and-in” dream. (Get it? Skip-shot! Ya-da-ta!)
Look, all I’m saying is just open your mind – indulge me. Come take a skate through the rationale and possibilities.
Everywhere NHL hockey has been transplanted in the southern United States – Dallas, Nashville, Florida, Los Angeles, etc – grassroots efforts have been undertaken to get kids (and adults) into the sport. Not to mention the myriad of pro teams and leagues that popped up, as well as the junior programs that sprouted in Texas, California, Florida and elsewhere. The spawn of these initiatives has been some high-grade young talent that has gone on to play junior hockey the northwest United States and Canada and for Division I programs at schools in the northeast and northern plains.
Dallas Stars prospect Austin Smith is a prime example. Smith was born in Dallas, grew up in Coppell, and played his youth hockey at Jesuit. He had a stint at a Connecticut prep school, then a year in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League with the Penticton Vees (same team as one Brett Hull starred on back in the day) before heading to Colgate where the undersized scoring machine tore up the NCAA, leading the nation in goals as a senior while being voted finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (College Hockey Player of the Year).
And there have been, and will be, others. Seth Jones is a name you should know. This summer the Plano-raised Jones had to choose between the college route (U of North Dakota) or Major Junior competition. Wielding the power that comes from being a blue-chip talent that should go in the first few picks of this upcoming summer’s draft, he and his advisors weighed the options, orchestrated a trade from Everett to the Portland Winterhawks, and embarked on a junior career in the WHL.
So the two most high-profile local products chose an upstate New York college and a Pacific Northwest junior team. What if another option was TCU, OU, or UT? (Can Bevo skate? OU Ice Girl scholarships? Horned Frog Pond?)
And how awesome would it be to one day have a Big 12 school in the Frozen Four?! Could happen, right? Right? Maybe all it would take would be one school (or a couple) committing to it – deciding to have a go at varsity hockey as an independent – like the Fighting Irish did back in the late 60s or as Miami of Ohio did in the late 70s.
Oh the possibilities.
Yes, that is the dream I have. A dream that the spectacle that is NCAA hockey migrated south of the Mason-Dixon Line. So hey Norman, yo Austin…how ’bout a little “Frozen” Red River Rivalry at AAC (or, if we’re in fantasyland, Cowboys Stadium) in say, 2025?
In the meantime don’t wake me up, I’m enjoying this.