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MSUM hockey: AD softens stance on a conference

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MOORHEAD - While Doug Peters thinks Minnesota State Moorhead needs a conference to start Division I ice hockey, the Dragons athletic director has softened that stance.

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Peters has at least looked at the option of starting out as an independent.

"I still feel we need a viable conference, but as we explore this I want to make sure we look at all the options," Peters said.

Peters said a few weeks ago he talked with former Nebraska-Omaha head men's hockey coach Mike Kemp about the challenges that program faced when it started as an independent.

Nebraska-Omaha is now in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Peters had said in April MSUM would not start an independent team when the school formally announced it was exploring a move to D-I ice hockey.

"I've softened on that point because I have become more knowledgeable about Division I hockey and how startup programs have done things," Peters said.

While the Western Collegiate Hockey Association would be the most desirable league for MSUM if it was to start a team, Peters said he would not rule out the CCHA as an option.

"It's part of doing our due process that we look at every option out there, whether it is viable or not," Peters said.

The WCHA could try to convince Nebraska-Omaha to apply for membership along with Bemidji State to give the league an even 12 teams. If that happens, the CCHA would be left with 11 teams.

MSUM is still trying to finalize a hockey business plan to present to school President Edna Szymanski by early next week.

Szymanski is on vacation until Monday. MSUM business professor Ben Clapp chairs the 11-person exploratory committee that is putting together the plan that will be submitted to Szymanski.

Clapp said the report is about 95 percent complete.

"We just haven't finished the final edits," Clapp said. "We want to be careful in our wording because we do want it to come across with our feeling of it being a positive for the university. ... We're hoping that we put it on President Szymanski's desk when she comes back on Monday."

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Eric Peterson
Peterson covers small college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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