NCAA regional sites to move off campus

College hockey may sacrifice tournament game attendance for more competitive, neutral and off-campus matchups starting with the 2009-2010 season. The NCAA MenâÄôs Ice Hockey Committee voted to move all regional tournament games to off-campus venues starting in 2010. Minnesota will host those West regional games at the Xcel Energy Center. Athletics Director Joel Maturi said heâÄôs received a lot of angry e-mails from fans who arenâÄôt looking at the big picture. Maturi served as chairman of the committee for a four-year term that expired Sept. 1 . Committee members also talked with coaches to make the best possible decision, he said, which was released Aug. 29. âÄúI donâÄôt know of a sports committee that listens to its coaches more than we do,âÄù Maturi said. Fairness was the coachesâÄô main concern, he said. NHL professional ice measures 200 feet by 85 feet . Olympic rinks, like Mariucci Arena, are 200 feet by about 100 feet . After this season, NCAA regional tournament games will only be played on NHL-size ice, to be consistent . Five of the 10 Western Collegiate Hockey Association teams play on Olympic-sized rinks . Civil engineering sophomore Andrew Renner said the change will take away from the college experience and keep fans from going out to the games, especially if they are farther away. ItâÄôs almost impossible to have completely neutral sites, he said. âÄúIf theyâÄôre concerned about fairness, and move games to cities that no team plays in, then nobody will go,âÄù Renner said. This season, Mariucci Arena will host the West Regiona l for the last time, barring another rule change. Maturi said playing at a home arena is more advantageous. âÄúWhen youâÄôre playing on your own ice, own locker room, in familiar territory,âÄù he said. âÄúThereâÄôs no question.âÄù Former Gophers hockey player Matt Koalska scored the game-tying goal in the third period of the 2002 NCAA championship game at the Xcel Energy Center . The team definitely took advantage of playing there, he said. âÄúWe were basically playing in our backyard. I grew up just down the street,âÄù Koalska said. âÄúYou always have a little more jump to your step in situations like that.âÄù Koalska said Xcel was more of an advantage than their home arena because it holds almost twice as many people as Mariucci Arena. Boston College ended the GophersâÄô season last year during the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass . âÄî about an hour drive from their campus . In 2010, Notre Dame will host the Midwest Region al in Fort Wayne, Ind. The East Regional will be at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., and Holy Cross will host the Northeast Regional at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. âÄúWe feel that each of these buildings will showcase college hockey, give our student-athletes a tremendous experience and help take our championship to another level,âÄù Maturi said.