In Search of Hockey Players around Frostburg, Md.

As I’m settling in to Frostburg, I’m about to resume playing hockey again just as adult leagues are winding down or already over.

The easy solution for me is to just play in Hagerstown where I grew up playing, know most of the guys there and is close by my parents’ house and sisters’ apartments for a quick stop-in. You’ll quickly find out that I’ve put in way too much thought into all this, but save for actually building a rink here, you do all you can to play hockey before your body says no mas.

I also recognize that the Frostburg area is a bit of a hockey desert. It’s the perfect climate for hockey—especially in what seems like an extended winter—and if students at FSU or others nearby want to continue playing they have to hunt for likeminded people.

I created a Facebook page called Frostburg Hockey where hockey players around the area can talk to each other, organize rides to pick-up games and league games and maybe meet up for a beer or watch the pros play. The page isn’t to be confused with the defunct Frostburg State Bobcats club hockey team. The Cumberland ice rink’s closure in 2005 pretty much killed that. A few players came down to Hagerstown the following three years then ceased to exist.

A good percentage of students at FSU will probably make up this group and they tend to be from the Baltimore-Washington market, creating a better chance for players coming up this way at least part of the year. If you are one of those people, first of all, hello.

Second, you might not know the ice rink situation up here if you played in the Capital Beltway Hockey League or travel leagues that took you through New Jersey and New York.

The Hagerstown rink is actually one of the furthest away from Frostburg, and somehow Morgantown only has a seasonal indoor rink. Here’s the map I created that shows your options:

If you can’t view the map, thee are your closest ice rinks:

  • Planet Ice, Johnstown,PA—58.7 miles; 1hr 14in
  • The Ice Mine (formerly Divito Park Ice Mine), Connellsville (Leisenring), PA—63.9 miles; 1hr 16min
  • Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown, PA—62.5 miles; 1hr17min [Mainly used for junior games]
  • Galactic Ice Arena, Altoona,PA—75.7 miles; 1hr23min
  • North Central Recreation Center, Ebensburg,PA—73.1 miles; 1hr26min
  • Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex, Hagerstown, MD—78.7 miles; 1hr29min
  • Morgantown/BOPARC Ice Arena, Morgantown, WV—66.5 miles; 1hr 9 min [Typically open from October to March 31]
  • Cranberry Swamp, Cranberry Swamp Road, Finzel, MD—5.2 miles; 10min
  • C&O Canal, Cushwa Basin, Williamsport, MD [If you know of any spots on the canal around Cumberland let me know.]

Here’s the wild card about all this: driving in the winter. The Altoona rink is off of I-99 but as that road turns into US 220 heading south, that four-lane highway turns into a two-lane winding, country road until you reach I-68 in Flintstone.

Same goes for the trip to Johnstown until you reach US 219’s junction with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Either road out of Frostburg is a two-lane road until it eventually turns into a four-lane highway about halfway into your trip in what feels like BFE.

That’s why both The Ice Mine and Hagerstown ice rinks seem like better bets. US 40 to US 119 in Pennsylvania are both four-lane roads for the majority of the trip, giving two priority routes for snow removal. Heading to Hagerstown, I-68, I-70 and US-40 are all typically cleared off pretty good and hey, Rocky Gap Casino is on the ride home.

As for Morgantown, it’s a solid option getting there and back, but that seasonal schedule might throw off some things. And right now, I don’t know when any of these rinks play other than Sunday night for Hagerstown.

So let the suggestions flow and stop by the Frostburg Hockey page to learn more.


Comcast shuts out Caps, Wizards fans for CSN+ games in Western Maryland

This is what Allegany County Comcast Xfinity viewers saw on their guide Tuesday but were unable to watch the Washington Capitals game because instead of NBCSN carrying the game as shown, it was carried on CSN+. Comcast in Allegany County does not carry CSN+.

This is what Allegany County Comcast Xfinity viewers saw on their guide Monday but were unable to watch the Washington Capitals game because instead of NBCSN carrying the game as shown, it was carried on CSN+. Comcast in Allegany County does not carry CSN+.

Update: A marketing representative from Comcast SportsNet MidAtlantic reached out to me Monday to investigate the issue.

Early indicators show that this is some sort of delivery issue.

The representative explained that CSN+ should be The Comcast Network in my area and ought to be Channel 6 in Frostburg.

After some searching, I found The Comcast Network but it’s on Channel 125 and it gets weirder. The game still didn’t air that night in Frostburg on The Comcast Network. When the Comcast Xfinity agent was trying to resolve the issue, he reactivated my box t make sure I’m getting the right channels.

I saw The Comcast Network flip on but on the channel CSN should be on.  After the system fully adjusted itself, it went back to the way it was. The Comcast Network ended up airing a MMA fight that night.

I haven’t heard back from the representative since I gave her this additional information but it sounds like the wrong feed of The Comcast Network is being sent here. The next opportunity to find out is April 4 when the Washington Wizards’ game is suppose to air.

I’ll post any updates if I receive them.

Original post: Not a lot of people crave to see the Caps play the lowly Buffalo Sabres this year on TV, but with points on the board for Washington’s playoff race, every game matters.

Somewhere in the mess, it didn’t matter to someone at Comcast or its partners for awhile.

Monday’s game between the Caps and the Sabres aired nationally on NBCSN except in the Baltimore/Washington market where the game aired on Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic Plus, or CSN+.

CSN+ was used thanks in part for CSN broadcasting the Washington Wizards and Portland TrailBlazers NBA game.

I realize this is more than the Caps. The Wizards are on CSN+ for 12 games this season. Ted Leonsis, you might want to give Ed Snider a call about this and get it fixed because you’re missing eyeballs you ought to be entitled to.

In Allegany and Garrett counties, here in far Western Maryland, you couldn’t watch that Caps game on TV. The same goes for the other eight games CSN+ aired this year because Comcast in this area does not carry the overflow channel, CSN+. Yes, the normal CSN MidAtlantic is carried.

Why Comcast doesn’t carry an overflow channel within its own company, I just don’t understand. I couldn’t get an answer either. I’ll get more into that later.

Allegany and Garrett counties are in a weird area that has blackout exceptions for the NHL. Comcast carries both CSN and Root here so both Caps and Pittsburgh Penguins games can be aired. I know how much that violates some of you. I do kind of feel dirty watching the Pens when nothing else is on. (Of late, I can watch both of the Caps and Pens on the NHL GameCenter app without blackout restriction either, but I don’t know if that’s because it’s the end of the season, similar to what the NHL did during the first month.)

On the TV guide menu, the game said it was being aired on NBCSN here. I tuned in and it was Barclays Premier League soccer. CSN+ was nowhere to be found and I tried even punching in channel numbers that it could be without any help. The only way I could watch last night’s game was the livestream on NBCSN’s website, which interrupts live action with commercials.

I went online and talked to a Comcast agent just to be sure. The transcript is attached and you’ll see the guy did as much as he could to figure this out, even reactivating my box. After all of this and as much as I could explain to someone about blackouts and such, he determined that Comcast doesn’t carry CSN+ here regardless of package. Visit CSN’s channel finder and you’ll find the same thing. Try typing in 21532, the Frostburg ZIP code and you’ll only see DirecTV—a competitor of Comcast.

I wrote emails to Comcast, CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Washington Capitals last night imploring them to get Comcast to carry CSN+. Frostburg, especially, is a host to at least a few thousands students and professionals from the Baltimore and D.C. area during the hockey season thanks to the chief enrollment figures from my employer, Frostburg State University. Actually, more than 91 percent of students are from the Capitals’ broadcast territory. [Note: This blog is a personal project and is no way endorsed by FSU nor do the opinions reflect employees or students of the university.]

If I knew where in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia other students are from, the figure would be higher. Of note, Comcast subscribers in Franklin County, Pa., have CSN+, and were able to watch Monday’s Capitals games.

The audience is here. Cellular carriers AT&T, Verizon and TMobile have acknowledged how many people with their plans are up this way and have made or are in the middle of upgrading towers to serve its customers in a new area. I hope the same thing can be said for Comcast and CSN+, especially in a territory where Penguins games are also available on TV.

I’d switch TV providers but the rural area here is bound to limited choices. Comcast is the only cable provider. Satellite is available with DirecTV and Dish Network, but if you want high-speed Internet that’s faster than DSL, Comcast is your only option. And Comcast, much like other companies, won’t allow you only to subscribe to Internet service at certain speeds (like 25Mbs) that would make it easy to cut cable completely.

I know this is a small potatoes blog. I don’t update much, but when it comes to hockey and access, I’m all words.

Here’s the transcript: Xfinity-Chat-Transcript-Caps-Sabres