Illinois Releases Results Of Feasibility Study Inspired By Penn State Hockey
Last Thursday The University of Illinois released the results of a study conducted about the feasibility of adding a men’s hockey program. Terry Pegula and the success of Penn State’s hockey program inspired the study, which concluded that interest in hockey is rapidly growing throughout Illinois and that a Division I hockey program would thrive in Champaign.
The study was first conducted in June 2017 and was announced at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.
One of the main reasons for the growth of hockey in Illinois is the recent success of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since the turn of the decade, which has led to an increase in youth hockey participation around the state.
Chicago Blackhawks President/CEO John McDonough had nothing but good things to say about Pegula’s work in growing hockey throughout Pennsylvania prior to the 2017 NHL Draft. He said that the owner of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and the NFL’s Buffalo Bills is an example of “an illuminating, shining star” of building a college hockey from the ground up.
“Terry was a groundbreaker here,” Mathieu Schneider, special assistant to the executive director for the NHLPA, added. “Maybe if not for the great success of his program, we might not be having this conversation.”
Illinois already boasts an extremely strong club hockey program, which was ranked No. 5 in the ACHA headed into the national tournament. If the Fighting Illini begin a Division I program, they would likely become the eighth team to join an already-stacked Big Ten conference.