Terrorism concerns postpone WCHA tour

by David La Vaque

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has indefinitely postponed its All-Star team tour of Italy because of concerns about terrorism, said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod in a statement released Friday.

The WCHA made the decision after the arrests of eight men in Milan, Italy, two weeks ago. The men were suspected of providing false identity papers for members of the al Qaeda terrorist network.

“We really have no other choice at this time,” McLeod said in the statement.

Minnesota coach Don Lucia, players Paul Martin, Matt Koalska, Troy Riddle and four other Gophers staff members were among the 34 players, coaches and administrators scheduled to make the trip.

The team was scheduled to depart from Minneapolis on August 10th and return on August 19th. Included on the tour were as many as four exhibition games and a stop in Venice.

Since the arrests, Venice has been on high alert with small submarines patrolling the city’s lagoon. In both Venice and Rome, extra police forces patrolled their ancient Jewish quarters.

“It’s unfortunate, but given the current situation, we all agree (canceling the tour is) the right thing to do at this point,” Lucia said in a release.

The WCHA brings a team of college all-stars to Europe every other year. In 1998, the team toured Switzerland and, in 2000, the team traveled to Norway.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]