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Five CCHA schools offered spots in WCHA; Alaska, Lake Superior State quick to accept

Five CCHA schools have been extended invitations to join the WCHA for the 2013-2014 season, and two have jumped at the opportunity.

Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Western Michigan were offered spots Thursday on behalf of the presidents of the six WCHA teams that will comprise the league following the 2012-2013 season.

Also Thursday, Alaska and Lake Superior State announced they were accepting the invitations.

They will join Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Northern Michigan in the WCHA starting in the 2013-14 season, when the Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference form.

“This invitation represents a tremendous opportunity for the remaining members of both leagues,” said CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch in a statement. “Their collective commitment to Division I hockey was evident in Chicago and the synergy created by last Tuesday’s meeting will help all involved chart a course that is right for their respective program and provide further stability to college hockey’s evolving landscape.”

“We are committed to creating stability for the conference and believe by inviting these institutions we will create one of the strongest conferences in the nation,” added Minnesota State president Dr. Richard Davenport. “This is one of the main reasons presidents voted today to invite CCHA member institutions to join our conference. Also, as presidents, we are committed to providing the best college hockey opportunities in the country for our student-athletes.”

WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said that he couldn’t be more excited and pleased to extend these invitations to CCHA member schools.

“This is truly a significant and quite remarkable twist in what has been a period of great consternation and transition in the college hockey world,” said McLeod. “During what were very informative and productive meetings in Chicago, and as we worked our way through the agenda, it became clear that all of these great institutions share a commonality in that every one of them is 100 percent committed to the sport of collegiate ice hockey and that they also share a great deal philosophically both athletically and academically. From there, the idea of coming together was a natural progression.”

As a condition of this potential membership process moving forward, the WCHA member presidents set a 30-day response timeline for acceptance. The WCHA and CCHA have also agreed to continue to hold regular talks to address such topics as bylaws, scheduling, tournament scenarios, finances and additional membership.

Alaska’s confirmation means both Division I hockey-playing schools from that state will be in the same conference.

“There is a collective sense of relief,” Alaska athletic director Forrest Karr said in a statement. “We can now turn our attention to making sure all CCHA student-athletes have a quality experience over the next two years and to helping build on the WCHA’s solid foundation.”

Lake Superior State will join fellow Upper Peninsula schools Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan in the WCHA.

“This will be a great step for our program — to find a league with teams that are similar to ours,” athletic director Kris Dunbar said in a statement. “We will be in a conference with similar schools and good hockey traditions. This should be appealing to fans, alumni and recruits. Our fans will continue to see good college hockey played in Taffy Abel Arena for years to come.”

Ferris State and Western Michigan also issued statements Thursday.

Ferris State’s read, in part: “As an institution, Ferris remains firmly committed to academic and athletic success for all of its student-athletes. As a proud and long-time member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the university looks forward to responding to the WCHA’s invitation in the very near future.”

Western Michigan has been linked with a potential move to the NCHC, and a statement attributed to athletic director Kathy Beauregard was noncommittal.

“The description of the recent Chicago meeting as creating synergy is absolutely true as evidenced by the WCHA’s membership invitation,” Beauregard said. “We at Western Michigan are very appreciative of this invitation and are equally appreciative of the stability this combined league will provide for the changing landscape of college hockey.”


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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RXIYXPN5XUZ2V5UT7CEV2YHZBY A guy named Joe

    The conference is too large.  13 and 14 when (if) Moorhead joins.

    Hockey would be better served with more smaller conferences to aid expansion.

    • Spanky

      Where do you get 13? 6 plus 5 is 11 last time I checked. Also Western will likley go to either NCHC or hockey east so we are looking at 10 teams most likely. Now we just have to wait for Notre Dame to figure out what they are going to do. Nothing will happen until they decide where they are moving to.

      • Bigspartan

        it has already happened, congrats to LSSU / FSU / UAH / BGSU. A MUch better solution than taking on AHA teams and creating increased travel with difficult to sell home dates!

        Let ND do what they choose, whenever.
        WMU has a decision to make in the next 30 days, but choose wisely because ND could not give a damn what happens to WMU.

        • MC

          UAH? You mean UAF right? how long have you been watching college hockey?

          • cis

            MC,

            I love you tough guys who enjoy jumping on people anonomously online, especially when it is totally uncalled for, and ESPECIALLY when you are in fact, wrong.  UAH is a school too, brainiac (University of Alabama Huntsville).  How long have YOU been watching college hockey?

            Oh, and you replied to a post that was completely separate from the original poster’s thread you roid-raged on.

          • MC

            cis, UAH may be a hockey school but presently not in the CCHA maybe you need to chill a bit

          • WHAT?

            UAF isn’t in the CCHA either … what is your point

          • Derr

            Uh… yes they are. UAF=Alaska

          • MC

            open mouth, insert foot

          • MC

            open mouth, insert foot

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

    Why bother waiting on the Indecisive Irish? He who hesitates is lost. Do what’s best for yourselves-I’m sure that’s what Notre Dame will do.

    • Joe C

      Notre Dame has its choice of Hockey East and NCHC. It can afford to wait, since it is the most desirable “free-agent” program in the sport. Why not find the best deal? The Big Ten schools left Notre Dame in the dust given the football issue.

  • kuhn & Friends

    I do not see WMU going to this conference only two natural rivals Ferris and LSSU, and the added travel may be too much for a team like WMU and lets face it WMU is planning on building a large arena and it will not fill up with teams such as St Cloud and Moorehead coming in to play. They would be better suited going independent until this whole hockey landscape shift has settled or linking up with NCHC

    • HockeyMichigan

      I wouldn’t call Ferris and LSSU natural rivals. I’d say Ferris and Western, or LSSU and Tech or Northern would be natural rivals.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YJCYMXJ27RENTZL47JMYUP4ISU inuiyak

    Finaly!  All is right in the world.  Now comes the quest to get UAH in.

  • Csitzman

    Excellent move!  Making lemonade out of lemons with the situation they have been handed.  And they need to find a few more teams so they can make this a 2 division conference (East & West) so they can keep more of their games within their region, reduce some of the travel costs and build/maintain some of those regional rivalries.  They still will not attract the attention (and talent?) of the mega conferences, but since the Big Ten conference is likely to fail, I think we will see a few big name teams eventually move back to the WCHA (and make them beg for it when it happens).

    • getoverit

      “Big Ten Conference is likely to fail…”

      Yeah, the tradition, strong financial support and national broadcasts are really going to drag them down.  You keep on whining, though.

      • your_right

        I don’t see it failing but be careful to assume it will be as profitable as the “big” Big 10 sport, football.  What do you think the rating will be for Penn St vs. tOSU hockey game on the BTN?  My guess is poor.

        • Anonymous

          To be honest, I don’t even think it matters how poorly the ratings are. Whatever they end up being, they’ll be better than they are now in those time slots. How often are there college basketball games on Friday or Saturday nights, ya know?

    • Joe C

      As a Hockey East fan, I find it hard to believe any hockey league with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin along with Ohio State’s decent program and Penn State’s well-funded new program will “fail”.

      There is a national TV network needing programming. There are six gigantic state universities, four of which have won National Championships in hockey and all have huge athletic programs and national fan bases. And lest we forget, lots of money from boosters.

      You may not like HOW the Big Ten Hockey Conference was formed, but it was inevitable given the Big Ten rules about six schools in a sport must be part of the Big Ten. Even with down times in some of these programs, we are talking about four programs with significant history.

  • cis

    WMU will not be joining.  Everything points to the school only a accepting big-time conference (read: NCHC).  Big-time coach, great young talent, new arena planned, etc.  The Broncos will wait this thing out until they get in, even if that means playing independent for a couple seasons. 

    They can schedule big games against the best in the country and keep the momentum.  In fact, playing games out west and on the east coast every year will only add to their brand and help with recruiting.  The condition of course, is they have to win.

    • Guest

      Why do we presume that the NCHC wants Western????

      • Anonymous

        Every conference needs a cupcake :>

        Sorry that’s bad…couldn’t resist.

        From a perspective of “institutional similarity”  both Western and BG are a better fit in NCHC than they are with what’s leftover from the WCHA/CCHA.

        Why not NotreDame to HE and Western/BG to the NCHC?

        • Ring_of_Fire

          Because Notre Dame doesn’t want an 11 team conference filled with 8 eternally mediocre teams and 2 perennial powerhouses.

          • Joe C

            Perhaps you could educate this Hockey East alum as to what schools are the “eternally mediocre teams” you refer to. I am not sure what your criteria is, but you assuming you mean other than BU and BC, then your defintion of mediocre is far different than mine. Northeastern with NHL-caliber alumni and a recent Hobey finalist. Vermont with two Frozen Fours, some awesome NHL players that were Conn Smythe winners. UNH with a bunch of Frozen Fours and a finals appearence and plenty of NHL players, Providence with NHL players, UMass-Lowell and Merrimack that have made the tournament as at-large bids.

            I also recall a couple of NCAA championships and at least one finals appearance way up in Orono along with a lot of NHL players.

            Perhaps UMass-Amhearst is mediocre, but then again, I think they have made great strides since becoming a D-I program.

            In point of fact, there have been a number of Frozen Fours with two Hockey East teams and a number of all Hockey East finals. Most of these have been something other than BU-BC.

            If Notre Dame wants to go to Hockey East, it will be joined by another program to make a 12-team conference. But no one in South Bend is so arrogant as to dismiss Hockey East or the NCHC based on some blogger’s opinion.

        • Bob

          BG to the NCHC would be an interestingly hypocritical move by the new conference. If that were to happen it would throw the “like-minded” stuff out the door.

    • Mike

      It is good to see you have confidence in your school but what qualifies the WMU coach as big time?  Playing as an independent … do you really think that would benefit them in the standings … playoffs?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6NSVTUANKYXBKARQUVZ2YCYS5U Thomas

      Western a big time school HA, take a look at the past 10 years and tell me how well they are.  They were lucky to get past Ferris this past year.  Big time program HA

      • kuhn & Friends

        look at the last 10 years of Ohio St. and Penn oh wait that is right they have been DII St.  also western had more people at the Joe for the CCHA tourney than Miami and Notre Dame combined and outnumbered U of M fans

        • ND Alum

          Before last year Western was in a competition with BGSU to be the doormat of the CCHA- I appreciate all of the energy that Western has put out about hockey (I was one of the few in the ND section at the Joe) but I’m still skeptical about their prospects for long-term success 

  • Osorojo

    Playoff games are fickle, and bombast is nauseating. Wouldn’t it be nice if .  .  .

  • Joe C

    I am a very happy neutral observer. I am glad that the WCHA and CCHA had a very frank, adult conversation and decided to join forces instead of poaching teams from each other (WCHA was winning that matchup) or from CHA.
     
    There will be six autobids and none of them is will be a cheap NCAA berth. Other than Huntsville, everyone has a home unless I am missing something. There is room for expansion in all six leagues and there it appears there is some stability. There is even room for a few teams to still move and not upset the apple cart.

    • Zach

      There is no CHA

      • Joe C

        AHA instead of CHA. Alphabet soup can be confusing.

      • Joe C

        AHA instead of CHA. Alphabet soup can be confusing.

  • Anonymous

    ….that happened fast….

    I’m sure NCHC and B10 are loving the fact there will be 1 less AQ.  You would think the regular season champ of the “new” WCHA would be at least good enough to get an at-large bid even if they didn’t win the tourney for the AQ.  I suppose you could rationalize that as being “just as good” as an AQ from separate WCHA and CCHA conferences.  So from that perspective it’s likely a draw.  On an annual basis they should field at least two, possibly three depending on how the cards fall, NCAA teams.

    There is probably some wisdom in the strength in numbers -  a large confernence has its drawbacks but the ‘new’ WCHA/CCHA will save administrative costs combining together and if a program folds or leaves there isn’t this mad scramble to find a sixth team at the last minute. 

    • Joe C

      Before BTHC/NCHC play a game, there are five AQ. These are: Hockey East, ECAC, AHA, CCHA and WCHA. After BTHC/NCHC, there will be six AQ. Hockey East, ECAC, AHA, WCHA, BTHC and NCHC. The remaining WCHA teams now have a better chance of getting the autobid (in theory) since at least 12 other high-profile programs will have left.

      There is one less at-large bid in 2013. While others may be happy or unhappy by this news, I am just glad to know that no programs currently in a conference will be without a conference with an autobid. This is the goods news from the announcement.

      • Anonymous

        Correct.  If the WCHA and CCHA would have remained separate then post-NC/BT there would have been 7 AQs thus taking potential at-large from the NCHC/WCHA plus what other at-larger bid would potentially come from the new WCHA and elsewhere for that matter.  It’s awfully presumutious, to, well, assume all the at-large bids are going to be handed to the NC/BT – some of those teams may find they now have a more difficult path to the NCAA.  Remember a couple seasons ago Bemidji got an at-large bid as member of the 4 team CHA.

        • Anonymous

          Edit…

          …..thus taking potential at-large from the the NCHC/BT plus what other…..

          WCHA, CCHA, NCHC, etc………hard to keep it all straight…what conference do we play in again?

  • Thefightingman

    I am a bit bummed that the two conferences couldn’t keep themselves at 6 a piece and get two automatic bids as it is hard to trust the NCAA with such decisions, even if they say they use a computer.  They could have just agreed to play each other a bunch, but it will still be cool to see some new conference teams come to Mankato each year.  I remember that Ferris State was the first team to play against MSU on their home ice during their first year in D-I, and they were pretty good back then.  Lake Superior State has a big time tradition, so that will be fun, and who can beat the name Nanooks?  Bowling Green was here just a couple of years ago, Northern Michigan will be a great UPer rival, and if Western Michigan wishes to grace us with their presence, welcome.  Now they need to get either Alabama-Huntsville on board or go make sure MSU-Moorhead is on their way.

    Will it be the same as when the Gophers came to town?  No, but it should still be a great time.  I go to see the Mavs play, and hopefully win, anyway.  I can’t imagine that these teams will have fans who are as full of themselves as the one team who needs a new name as they seem to feel entitled to something (Michigan would actually be the best in college hockey history, not you Fighting Who).  Hopefully the U of MN match-up with MSU and SCSU can still go on with a home-and-home.  It has always been fun to see all the Gopher fans get down by the students at the Wireless and Maverick fans do the same in Mariucci.  Also, maybe someday Duluth will come on back to the rest of the Minnesota NSIC teams in all other sports. I rather of think they’ll miss having all the teams within a decent traveling distance after a little while; that Miami of Ohio, Colorado, or Omaha trips are going to be tough for a weekend getaway.

  • JamesDee

    This is the best thing for college hockey. The new WCHA will be better then the Big 10 and NCHA. The WCHA will keep its tradition going for many more years. Teams like Denver, CC, ND and  UMD will wish they stayed in the WCHA.

    I believe this will be the best thing for college hockey with many natraul rivals. mtu/nmu, uaa/uaf, lssu/fssu, BG/wmu.

    The WCHA presidents knew that combining the leagues was the best for college hockey. The teams that left will be wishing they played in the WCHA. The best league in the country. And the tradition will continue with new teams.

    • HockeyMichigan

      I wouldn’t call Ferris and LSSU natural rivals. I’d say Ferris and
      Western, or LSSU and Tech or Northern would be natural rivals.

  • JamesDee

    I am partying tonight now we only have to find homes for these teams WMU, Bowling Green, Ferris, UAH and Notre Dame.

    The puzzle is almost solved. I believe Ferris will be the next to accept they dont have any other options.  Bowling Green and WMU could end up either in the WCHA or NCHA. I hope they end up in the Nacho league with Miami so the MAC teams can stay together, But who knows.

    UAH Chargers will be offered to join the WCHA after the dust clears.

    The WCHA will remain the best confrence in college hockey. The winning traditon will continue in the WCHA.

    Join the WCHA/CCHA party tonight. Good programs. Good traditions.

    • Bob

      “The WCHA will remain the best conference in the country.” Um, no. Maybe the fourth, possibly only the fifth, best conference beginning in fall 2013.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YJCYMXJ27RENTZL47JMYUP4ISU inuiyak

        Bob, the reality is the teams in the WCHA are DII programs forced into DI.  Everybody knows this and I see no reason to disparage them.  Some of these schools (like Bemidji) dominated when they played in the lower levels and deserve some respect.  Some even struck gold like LSSU in the early 90′s.  No they will never be UND or Michigan caliber programs but to be so flippant shows not only a childish streak but a lack of character.

        • Yooper

          Who’s being flippant?  WCHA teams are Div II and forced into Div I?  And they will NEVER be of UND or Michigan caliber…. really,
          Did you say NEVER?  Is it somehow etched in stone that the likes of SCSU or Mankato can never win against Mich., Notre Dame etc.  Teams like LSSU, NMU have done it before and they can go on a romp again.  SCSU plays tough, period.  MTU has had better days and there is nothing on God’s green earth that says they can’t do it again.  School size doesn’t make dominance in hockey.  Logic might say it does, but history does not confirm that.  I have seen smaller schools not only beat larger schools, but they have done it consistently.  It is all coaching:  Examples of steady success are indeed the coaches of Mich. and Notre Dame, however, such leadership can crop up anywhere?  It has in the past and will in the future.    So, will the great coaches leave the small schools for bigger bucks elsewhere.  Well, not always

        • Yooper

          Who’s being flippant?  WCHA teams are Div II and forced into Div I?  And they will NEVER be of UND or Michigan caliber…. really,
          Did you say NEVER?  Is it somehow etched in stone that the likes of SCSU or Mankato can never win against Mich., Notre Dame etc.  Teams like LSSU, NMU have done it before and they can go on a romp again.  SCSU plays tough, period.  MTU has had better days and there is nothing on God’s green earth that says they can’t do it again.  School size doesn’t make dominance in hockey.  Logic might say it does, but history does not confirm that.  I have seen smaller schools not only beat larger schools, but they have done it consistently.  It is all coaching:  Examples of steady success are indeed the coaches of Mich. and Notre Dame, however, such leadership can crop up anywhere?  It has in the past and will in the future.    So, will the great coaches leave the small schools for bigger bucks elsewhere.  Well, not always

      • JamesDee

        The WCHA will have the longest winning confrence with lots more tradtion then any of the new confrences. Plus you can add LSSUs three national championships. Bowling Greens one if they join.

  • Pio

    Western Michigan is the most intriguing twist in this mess.  WMU is not paying Andy Murray $300k a year to play leftovers (sorry, that’s what these teams are). If either the NCHC or Hockey East offers WMU a spot they will jump on it. At some point they are going to have to tell Notre Dame to go EFF themselves. The question is, what if they don’t in the next 30 days? My guess is Western really has more than 30 days. WMU is the prize school in the invitation at this point. But if not, I bet the Broncos will go independent, prove the program is nationally competitive with tough scheduling, then get an invite in the next few years. Bobby Bowden built Florida State football in the 70s from a nobody by saying “we’ll play anybody, anywhere”.

    • Bob

      WMU isn’t going independent. That’s crazy to even speculate.

      • Pio

        Wow Bob. Looking at all your comments here I have to say your positive attitude is infectious!

    • Abc123

      I like it!!!  This is the exact same philosophy upon which North Dakota hockey was built!  

    • Guest

      In what world did WMU become one of college hockey’s greats?  Haven’t seen them do anything spectacular lately, don’t expect much either.  Far as I’m concerned, they are now a leftover too.  No immediate offer from NCHC was there?

  • Hustle

    Ferris State has also accepted.  Now down to just Bowling Green and Western Michigan

    • bluelion

      Will Ferris State be able to afford all this extra travel?

      • JamesDee

        If they want to play Division one hockey, they will enjoy the extra travel. All the close teams to them have jumped to other confrences.

  • Jackson

    It seems the WCHA is becoming a 2nd rate hockey conference.  Only they would take another conferences leftovers.  I don’t see the WCHA going to the Frozen Four anymore.  Goodbye prestige.  Goodbye greatness.

    • B.D.

      Well, it certainly would require something like filling an inside straight or rolling snake eyes to make it happen…..  Not impossible, just not likely.

  • Anonymous

    The NCHC has not invited W. Michigan to join and they are unlikely to do so unless Notre Dame joins the NCHC and the NCHC feels the need to have an even number of members (8).   ND and WMU would bring up the rear in that 8-team conference in terms of average attendance.  As such, the NCHC may be quite content to stay at 6 strong teams. 

    Notre Dame is obviously attractive to the NCHC is terms of national attention, but this may be offset by financial/travel concerns.  Notre Dame will make their move and then WMU will make theirs.

    Hockey East already has 10 members and has little incentive to add another school, even one of Notre Dame’s stature.  Again, travel costs and going to a less manageable number of teams will be major considerations.

    • ND Alum

      Notre Dame’s new arena season tickets already sold out

  • FD8

    RIP CCHA and UAH.