Final Five Name Lives on in WCHA, but With New Format

The WCHA Final Five name will live on, but the 2011 tournament will be a six-team event.

The moniker will reference the number of games in the tournament under the new format, which the league detailed Saturday.

With the addition of Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha next season, all 12 teams will take part in the postseason with six first-round series played on campus sites.

The six series winners will advance to the Final Five, with the top two remaining seeds getting a bye into Friday’s semifinals. The three through six seeds will play in Thursday games to pare the field to four for the weekend.

The third-place game will be eliminated.

“We are very excited to announce what we will feel will be a very positive evolution in the long and successful history of our WCHA Final Five beginning next season,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said in a statement. “A tremendous amount of work has gone into this process and numerous ideas and concepts were discussed. But ultimately our goal was to preserve the tremendously popular event we have now, continue to build on that success and add a couple of intriguing new twists.”

The Saturday championship game will be preceded by a Minnesota Wild NHL game during the afternoon.

McLeod said at a news conference Saturday that the league will continue its “Minnesota Rule,” which puts Minnesota in the late game on Thursday and Friday when it is alive in the tournament.

The league also unveiled a new version of the Broadmoor Trophy, which is presented to the Final Five champion. The new trophy is a bronze cast likeness of the Broadmoor Hotel, which hosted the early years of the NCAA championship and Colorado College hockey.

“The development of a new Broadmoor Trophy has been in works for a couple of years,” McLeod said. “We have been working closely with Steve Bartlett of the Broadmoor Hotel and Bill and Karen Busobusky of Blue Ribbon Trophies & Awards and could not be more pleased with how the project has come to fruition. Our MacNaughton Cup, which goes to our regular season champion, has long been recognized as one of the most impressive trophies in all of intercollegiate athletics and we know that this spectacular new Broadmoor Trophy will take a back seat to none. We are greatly indebted to the Broadmoor Hotel and want to recognize their long and significant relationship with the WCHA and college hockey in general.”

Three new trophies have been made — one stays with the winning team for a year, one will be on permanent display at the Xcel Energy Center and one will be a traveling trophy.