The first four-team D1 in DC tournament kicked off today at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Northeastern, Boston University, Wisconsin and Minnesota State are taking part in what is hopefully the first iteration of a new annual event. Many sports have post-Thanksgiving tournaments, including men’s and women’s hockey and basketball, so having another premiere tournament in a new location should be an exciting opportunity to expose people to D1 hockey.
However, none of the four games featuring some top programs in the country, including the No. 1 undefeated Wisconsin Badgers, will be broadcast nationally. There are no streams available to people from the native markets of the teams involved.
Frankly, someone needed to step up and get a streaming service for these games. Two other NCAA tournaments are being held this weekend and are available to people who may be interested. The Windjammer Classic in Vermont is being streamed for free by the University of Vermont. The Friendship Four, which is in Belfast, Northern Ireland, will be broadcast on NESN, the New England Sports Network.
It's Game Day in Ireland! Don't forget to tune into NESN, TSN2, or TSN GO at 2pm ET to watch Maine and Providence square off in the first round of the Friendship Four tournament!— Hockey East (@hockey_east) November 24, 2017
TSN, a Canadian network, is broadcasting a tournament featuring four American colleges.
If the D1 in DC tournament has been in the works for several years, like we’ve been told, was there ever even a conversation about a stream? Did it mature at all? Was anyone going to step up and make this happen?
It’s hard to put the blame on the schools. Wisconsin and Minnesota State had to travel several thousand miles, so claiming one of them had to bring a crew with them is a bit extreme. Northeastern could have brought people, but with an obligation to broadcast home sports superceding this, there was no chance of them going out of their way for everyone else. BU is the school that put this whole tournament into motion, and could have tried to put forward the resources to assemble a stream. Still, forcing BU to stream four games - two of which do not feature the Terriers - is asking a lot.
What about the conferences? Hockey East has been tweeting all day about the Friendship Four with zero mention of either NU or BU playing today. The WCHA has a separate men’s and women’s twitter account, so they have at least mentioned it. Frankly, expecting the conferences to put these games on the air is a stretch, but it would have been nice to at least see more buzz on social media.
Where is the NCAA on this? It should alarm someone that the No. 1 team in the nation, and one of the biggest names in the sport, will play two games in a brand-new tournament with no way for fans to see it. Could some pressure from a governing body with seemingly endless resources put these games on the air?
(Perhaps the NCAA could first put their preview article for D1 in DC in the right part of their site).
The one last group that will likely never read this but should is the Washington Capitals. We’ve all heard “Grow the Game” and “Anyone Can Play” thrown around by a lot of groups over the past few years, and some organizations are doing a great job. The Washington Pride of the JWHL, who organized this tournament, are doing plenty to grow the sport in the DC area. Kush Sindhu, the hockey director and U19 coach with the Pride, said he views this tournament as a chance to experience local youth to D1 hockey.
If a JWHL team can organize a four-team tournament, then why do the Capitals, who practice at Kettler, seem to have no idea the tournament is happening? A quick look at their Twitter shows zero mention of the tournament. If the NHL and the Capitals are committed to growing the game and letting everyone know “Anyone Can Play”, then they should have used this tournament as an opportunity to show to a region of the country that is lacking a D1 program what some of the best college teams in the country look like.
At the end of the day, not having any streaming service broadcast this tournament is disgraceful. Leaving a first-of-its-kind tournament in the dark is unacceptable and insulting to the teams involved. Hopefully next season this will be corrected and everyone will be able to watch D1 in DC.