The Canadians are recruited by U.S. colleges in several ways. Sometimes Canadian players read or hear about the exploits of one of the schools and write the coach, asking if they can enroll. Also, during spring vacations, the U.S. coaches travel to Canada to watch the Canadian playoffs in the hope of spotting talent. And Canadian junior teams are regularly brought into the U.S. for games with U.S. teams which provide the coaches a chance to do some scouting on their home ice. Finally, alumni in Canada watch for good prospects and pass the word on to the coaches.
"We have had to have the Canadian players to provide first-class hockey," Coach Bedecki explains. "It has been a two-way street. The fans have wanted good hockey, and the Canadians have given it to them. In their turn, the Canadians have enjoyed the enthusiasm and the support given hockey in this league. For example, a few days ago an American attendance record for a college arena was set when 17,430 fans watched two games between Minnesota and North Dakota in Minneapolis."
Most of the U.S. schools have their own rinks and artificial ice. They have heavy investments and some of them—for example, the University of Denver—are carrying a large part of their athletic programs on the proceeds from hockey.
In Grand Forks, the fans are even hotter than in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas. Upwards of 5,000 of the town's 34,000 citizens have been regularly jamming into the North Dakota team's antiquated winter sports building to watch the Nodak games. Typical of the enthusiasm being shown is the story of the doctor who had to leave a North Dakota-Denver game in the second period to deliver a baby in a Grand Forks hospital. He and the new father, a little out of wind, made it back in time to see most of the third period.
Denver Coach Armstrong has some faint hopes that the WIHL may find some way of holding together when the WIHL and NCAA hockey rules committees hold their meetings in St. Paul in mid-March. Denver has a big investment and a money raiser to protect. It is Armstrong's hope that a four-team league composed of Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota and a fourth school, possibly the Duluth branch of Minnesota, might be able to carry on a balanced program, but most of those connected with the league consider it a deceased duck.
Colorado College is itself seriously considering withdrawing from the league and may so announce within a week or so. Dr. Louis T. Benezet, president of the college, would like to revamp his school's hockey program to get a more representative team. Said a college official: "We couldn't throw out our Canadians by any means, but we'd like to de-emphasize hockey, get it back on a more amateur basis."
Though college presidents may worry, the fan does not. He likes the sort of hockey he has been getting. One Denver fan put it this way: "All I care about is for our Canadians to beat their Canadians. I don't care where the players come from."
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