Jun. 27—National Collegiate Hockey Conference commissioner Josh Fenton presented a pair of championship trophies in Grand Forks last season.
On Feb. 20, after UND beat Omaha 7-1 to clinch the league’s regular-season title, Fenton called UND captain Jordan Kawaguchi to center ice and handed him the Penrose Cup.
Three-and-a-half weeks later, after UND beat St. Cloud State 5-3 to win the league’s playoff title, Fenton called Kawaguchi back to center ice and handed him the. . . NCHC playoff trophy? The NCHC Frozen Faceoff trophy?
While the hockey world loves to name its trophies, the NCHC’s postseason championship trophy remains conspicuously unnamed eight years into the league’s existence.
It has become an outlier in men’s college hockey.
Hockey East’s playoff championship trophy is the Lamoriello Trophy, named after the league’s first commissioner, Lou Lamoriello.
The Eastern College Athletic Conference’s playoff championship trophy is the Whitelaw Cup, named after former ECAC commissioner Robert Whitelaw.
Atlantic Hockey’s playoff championship trophy is the Riley Trophy named after former longtime Army coach Jack Riley.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, which will officially disband next month, played for the Jeff Sauer Trophy, named after the longtime college hockey coach at Wisconsin and Colorado College.
And when the Central Collegiate Hockey Association resumes play next season after an eight-year hiatus, its playoff championship trophy will be called Mason Cup, just as it was before the league disbanded in 2013. It is named after Ron Mason, the second-winningest coach in college hockey history.
The Big Ten and NCHC are the only men’s college hockey leagues that have not named their playoff trophies.
It’s unlikely the Big Ten will do it — it doesn’t name any of its playoff trophies in any sport — but is it time for the NCHC to consider naming its playoff trophy?
It’s certainly not necessary. The league has gotten along just fine without that minor detail. But it could help in branding efforts and marketing the league’s annual tournament, the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. After all, there is a reason it named its regular-season trophy before its inaugural season.
If the league decides to do it, there are a couple possibilities sitting out there.
The first is the Broadmoor Trophy.
Next season will be the first since the NCAA began sponsoring hockey in the 1940s that the Broadmoor name will be missing from the sport’s landscape.
Beginning in 1948, the Broadmoor Ice Palace in Colorado Springs, Colo., hosted the first 10 NCAA Frozen Fours.
In 1985, the WCHA named its postseason championship prize the Broadmoor Trophy. That lasted until 2018, when the league introduced a new trophy named after Sauer.
The Broadmoor name continued to live on Colorado College’s hockey arena. Even when a new rink was built in the 1990s, it carried the name Broadmoor World Arena. But Colorado College will open its new rink, Ed Robson Arena, this fall.
The Broadmoor Arenas — the original one that hosted the first Frozen Fours and the newer one — will both be gone from the college hockey world. The trophy is gone, too.
It would be an appropriate name for the NCHC considering the league’s offices are located in the shadows of the Broadmoor Hotel.
The league also could choose to revive the Sauer Trophy, as Sauer was a former Colorado College player and coach. Perhaps there’s a new idea out there, too, whether it’s someone with a long association with college hockey or someone who was involved in the league’s launch.
In March, the NCHC Frozen Faceoff will return to its pre-pandemic home of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Fenton will again walk to center ice, make a short speech, call up a team captain and pass off the trophy. Will it have a name?