Wednesday, July 21, 2010
July by the Numbers stops in the midwest for jersey #21.
The conference that would become known as the WCHA was founded in 1951 and underwent a few name changes prior to becoming the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 1959.
Of the original seven members, Colorado College, Denver, North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan Tech still remain, although Michigan Tech briefly departed, taking the MacNaughton Cup with them, for three seasons in the early 1980's before returning in 1984.
The league began to expand in 1965 when Minnesota-Duluth was added to the league and Wisconsin followed in 1969. Notre Dame became the tenth member in 1971 and the league remained stable until a dramatic defection in 1981 when founding members Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Tech plus Notre Dame all departed en masse for the CCHA, leaving the league with just six clubs.
Michigan Tech returned in 1984, as well as the MacNaughton Cup, as it is awarded to the league champion of whichever league Michigan Tech is a member of, and brought Northern Michigan with them, expanding the league to eight teams once more.
Six years later St. Cloud State gained acceptance to the league prior to the league taking in Alaska Anchorage in 1993 to once more reach ten members for the first time since 1980.
1997 saw Northern Michigan return to the CCHA but two seasons later Minnesota State entered the league which began a period of stability, as membership remained the same through the end of 2009-10.
Next season the league will reach an all time high with 12 teams as both Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha begin play in the nation's college hockey powerhouse.
To date, 35 national championships have been won by WCHA schools, with the first being the inaugural championship in 1948 by then member Michigan. Colorado College followed in 1950 prior to Michigan reeling off three in a row. After a one year break, WCHA schools reeled off 12 in a row from 1955 to 1966. Michigan (3 championships), Colorado College, Denver (3), North Dakota (2), Michigan Tech (2) and Michigan State all contributed to the league's greatest era of dominance.
Denver won back to back in 1968 and 1969. Wisconsin won their first in 1973 to start a run of ten out of 11 for the conference, with Wisconsin (4) Minnesota (3), Michigan Tech and North Dakota (2) all taking turns.
North Dakota won in 1987 and Wisconsin opened the 1990's with the league's 27th prior to Northern Michigan's first in 1991. The league would wait until 1997 for North Dakota to add another to the ledger and they brought home the WCHA's 30th in 2000.
Beginning in 2002, the league captured five consecutive when Minnesota went back to back in 2002 and 2003, which was matched by Denver in 2004 and 2005, notable as all four participants in the Frozen Four were from the WCHA when Denver, North Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado College all won their regional tournaments that season, before Wisconsin won in 2006 to bring the league up to 35.
The St. Cloud State Huskies program can be traced back to 1932 when the school was known as the St. Cloud Teachers College. The school was renamed St. Cloud State in 1942 and eventually joined the NAIA at the Division II level.
The move up to Division I began in 1986 with the hiring of 1980 Olympic gold medal winning coach Herb Brooks. The team went 17-4-1 and broke or tied 45 school records that season on their way to the NCHA championship. Following the season plans were approved to build the team's new home, the National Hockey Center, which hosted it's first game in December of 1989.
1987-88 saw Brooks depart for the NHL and the team embark on it's first Division I season, making the NCAA playoffs the following season. 1990 saw the Huskies welcomed into the WCHA and they one their first WCHA playoff championship in 2000-01.
St. Cloud State Huskies - 2001 WCHA Playoff Champions
After seven previous bids, St. Cloud won their first NCAA tournament game in 2010 with a 4-3 win over Northern Michigan in double overtime.
With the upgrade in status, the team also began to regularly send it's players on to the NHL. Familiar names to have skated for St. Cloud who have gone on to play in the NHL include Bret Hedican, Matt Cullen, Mark Parrish, Tyler Arnason, Mark Hartigan, Jeff Finger and Ryan Malone.
Today's featured jersey is a 1996-97 St. Cloud State Huskies Mark Parrish jersey. While we recently trashed the Kootenay Ice for slapping their horrid logo on the jersey of the Washington Capitals, the St. Cloud State Huskies have taken a similar approach, but with infinitely more successful results.
Their home white jersey is a virtual copy of the classic Montreal Canadiens jersey, only this time with a clever take on the Canadiens iconic "CH" logo by swapping out the "H" for an "ST". This gives the Huskies an instantly familiar appearing logo that says "hockey" at first glance, but rewards the viewer on closer inspection. Additionally, while the jersey pattern is the same, the Huskies employ red, black and white as team colors, allowing them to avoid the criticism of simply copying the NHL club's jersey stitch for stitch.
Additionally, unlike Kootenay, who copied both Washington's home and road jerseys outright, St. Cloud took a different approach to their road jersey, going in an entirely different direction than Montreal's iconic red jersey with it's blue chest stripe, and created a menacing all black jersey, but still in a simple, classic style.
The lesson here is if you are going to base your jersey on an existing jersey, it's better to start with a timeless classic and add some well thought out tweaks to make it your own, rather than simply copy a faddish jersey template with trendy colors and slap on a poor, amateurish logo.
Today's video segment begins with St. Cloud State's first NCAA tournament victory in team history in March of 2010 in double overtime after seven previous appearances, all of which ended in defeat.
With St. Cloud down by a goal, here is a dramatic goal by the Huskies Ben Hanowski when he scored as time expired. Or did he?
Finally, a look at the National Hockey Center, home of the St. Cloud State Huskies.