CCHA set for ‘exploratory’ Tuesday meeting with 4 Atlantic Hockey teams

The next front in college hockey realignment could involve Atlantic Hockey, and four of its schools are scheduled to meet with the CCHA.

Representatives from Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris will meet with CCHA officials on Tuesday for what CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch called “exploratory discussions.”

That meeting will take place in Erie, Pa., a source said.

The 11-team CCHA could lose the greatest percentage of its teams of any conference in the realignment scheduled for the 2013 offseason. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are headed to the Big Ten; Miami will join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference; and Northern Michigan is moving back to the WCHA.

Notre Dame and Western Michigan are testing the waters for a move out of the CCHA, and speculation has linked Alaska to a possible move to the WCHA.

If any of Notre Dame, Western Michigan or Alaska left the CCHA, the league would drop under the six-team minimum to maintain an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The meeting between the CCHA and the four schools was first reported by College Hockey News.

Pletsch said recently that his first priority was to “maintain the solvency of the CCHA brand.”

A move to the CCHA would give the four schools the opportunity to award the full 18 scholarships allowed under NCAA rules. Atlantic Hockey limits schools to 12 scholarships.