WCHA’s Alaska playoff plan has some members anxious

The first sign of anxiety over the remodeled WCHA’s upcoming postseason format surfaced just minutes after the plan was voted in.

League commissioner Bruce McLeod said he heard a couple of informal conversations taking place after last week’s meeting, with representatives of the schools that will make up the nine-team WCHA talking over other possibilities.

“There was anxiety on a lot of peoples’ parts when you do something somewhat different,” McLeod said.

That something different is a format that will automatically match Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska in the first round of the playoffs unless one wins the regular season championship and the bye to the Final Five that goes with it.

The vote was eight in favor and one against, and the dissenter was vocal in opposing the plan.

“I think it is embarrassing, and I think it is bad for college hockey and bad for our league,” Alaska-Anchorage athletic director Steve Cobb told the Anchorage Daily News. “Don’t get me wrong, we love playing Fairbanks. But the playoffs are supposed to be an earned deal. You don’t pick your opponent.”

The plan was born from financial and geographical issues related to Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage being in the same conference for the first time when conferences reshuffle in 2013, McLeod said.

But the league committed to it for only two seasons, possibly further illustrating the trepidation WCHA members felt about making an outside-the-box change to postseason seeding.

“Some years if they both finish in the lower half, that’s not going to taste very good,” McLeod said. “But if they both finish in the upper half, it’s going to be not good for them. They might have been able to get two in [to the Final Five] otherwise and they’re only going to get one. That’s why we did it on a two-year rotation to see how things shake out and how people feel about it. It’s not a very long commitment.”

Including all nine teams in the postseason wasn’t a foregone conclusion, McLeod said. Eight- and six-team plans were also discussed at the meeting in Detroit before the full field was approved.

The league’s future membership also approved a 28-game conference schedule that will see teams meet six of their opponents four times each and the other two opponents twice each per season.

Cobb also told the Anchorage Daily News that the WCHA’s 2015 tournament championship will be played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. That venue has hosted the WCHA Final Five since 2001, and it will house the Big Ten Conference’s championship weekend in 2014 and 2016.

The site of the 2014 tournament has not been determined.

Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State are staying in the WCHA in 2013, and Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan are joining them from the CCHA.

The conference shifts started when the Big Ten Conference announced its formation for 2013, taking Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State from the CCHA.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference then emerged with Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and St. Cloud State leaving the WCHA and Miami and Western Michigan departing the CCHA.

Current CCHA member Notre Dame also is on the move in 2013, going to Hockey East.

Alabama-Huntsville is the only school without a conference affiliation after the 2013 shift takes place; the Chargers have been an independent since the CHA folded in 2010.

The future WCHA members talked about UAH, McLeod said, but that discussion was purely informational.


  1. Yooper,

    This situation may be the first Good thing to happen to you and your conference! Assuming that Alaska (either team) does not take first in their respective division, that gives Tech a better opportunity to actually make the Final Five for the first two years… Gotta make you happy no?

  2. This is so bad it takes away from the competitiveness of the league. The integrity of the nWCHA has just gone out the window.

    The best thing do is to recruit teams to get up to twelve. Recruit some bubble teams from the NCHC like WMU or St Cloud.
    Also, you can look at Mercyhurst, Robert Morris in the AHA. Both teams have also expressed interest in getting to 18 scholarships.
    Mercyhurst is already in the GLIAC with MTU, NMU,LSSU, and FSU.

    Also, by going to twelve teams it would mean less trips to Alaska.

    Having twelve teams gets rid of Alaska Plan.

    • Yooper, what you have just said, is the most insanely idiotic thing
      I have ever heard. At no point, in your rambling incoherent response
      were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational
      thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I
      award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.

      -Billy Madison

    • Why in Gods green earth would SCSU or WMU go to the new WCHA?????? Are you insane? Why would anyone want to be on the new WCHA for that matter????

    • Or the NCHC could recruit Mother Blackmores Nursery school…. That would improve the level of play….
      And they have a history tooooooo…

  3. Why would scsu and wmu even consider stepping down to play in the wcha…. think before you post… wait,, the mn vikings should play in the arena league to help them out…

    • SCSU and WMU are going to be the laughing stock of the NCHC. Both teams will be glad to have five wins in the NCHC.
      The league was formed to satisfy DU and ND. Past those two teams nobody cares who are the rest of the teams in the league.
      Trips to Grand Forks and Denver will be wasted time for both of these teams. As i said Denver and ND might as well wash their hands as they will sweep the rest of the teams.
      I will laugh as WMU and St Cloud will be bottomfeeders as they wish they were in the other league.
      You know the league that has sixty years of history, tradition, and success.

      • Its all about resources. Those who joined the NCHC were willing to commit resources, those who were not willing stayed in the nWCHA.

        • Exactly! This is the reason the NCHC formed these schools wanted to make a commitment to being the best conference in the country. It may be harsh but some of the schools in tyhe nWCHA schools don’t cut it (see the Alaska playoff plan). The anti-NCHC idiots can bash the league all they want but 10 or 20 years years down the road when you look back it will be fun to see how much of a power conference this will have become. Don’t believe me any school that got left behind would jump at a moments notice to get in…don’t think so…..see SCSU’s reaction after the league was first announced.

        • Not entirely true. BSU made a significant committment to their program in funds and with the completion of a state of the art arena in 2010. The NCHC formed with the idea that large schools have larger fan bases that bring in the potential for TV contracts. Don’t think there was much thought beyond that. Large school=invite. Small school=no invite.

      • Don’t be so fast to write off WMU. SCSU was a consolation prize when Notre Dame went east, but WMU has committed big money to their program. Like UNO they are new to top flight competition but they are coming on fast. Last time I checked Miami, CC, and UMD have won national championships in recent years. SCSU has fallen on hard times lately but a national TV contract raises all boats, something the nWCHA will never have.

        • really? gut feeling is that wmu was the consolation prize and not scsu.. fyi scsu has a bigger draw of fans than wmu… dont believe me.! look it up.

          • I don’t know what any of you guys are arguing about…. Do you forget that St. Cloud has been a tough team to beat year in and year out? WM has also been a challenge and I as a Sioux Fan, I look forward to taking on these teams for the next 30+ years St.Cloud and the National Hockey Center (been and played there) is going to be a great hockey venue and is no cake walk to play in! Disagree, love to hear it

          • SCSU is a great program. But admit the truth. SCSU was admitted into the NCHC only after Notre Dame went to Hockey East. SCSU is in a money crunch, they are trying to cut sports because their budget exceeds revenues. You’re right money doesn’t ensure a quality program, but it costs money to pay for scholarships, coaches, trainers. Larger recruiting budgets let coaches scout top prospects and convince them to sign with your school. Coaches need access to airplanes to run practice and still make recruiting visits. Last but not least it takes money to operate facilities and pay travel expenses for teams to attend away games. Check out the league wide profit and loss for each program. Top programs have higher budgets. End of discussion! If you still need more proof take a high school Econ class and even you will figure it out!

        • i think that scsu finish above UNO and then swept them in the playoffs. Wmu has came on in the last 2 years but before that were the bottom finders in a conference that is behind the wcha in talent. scsu has made the big dance 5-6 times in the last 10-12 years. scsu is like umd (except the 1 year that umd won it all). they have couple good years and then a couple bad years…

  4. It would be better if Alaska Nanooks and UAA Seawolves play as independents and host tournments for the 48 state teams who want to spend $10,000 and get some extra games at home because the games are exempt.
    Also, both Alaska schools could play each other a ton of times and host tournments. Play alot of games against Canadien colleges and stil be competitive as college teams. Maybe the US18 team could make a trip up to Alaska on the way to the worlds.
    I came to the conclusion the Alaska teams should just not join the WCHA and become Independents. For the best of college hockey and for the Alaska teams.

    • Most if not every team that goes to the far north (Alaska) gets discounted and teams are exempt from the league max of games played. Meaning, you get more quality games in during the season and probably even make more money… That is what I have heard anyway and the $ factor is probably false. I DO know for sure that going up to Fairbanks or Anchorage is special and every player on the team looks forward to the trip every year even though it is a difficult place (barn) to play in That is probably why the Sioux go up there every year for Alaska early bird tourney. It is a very good start the season and a team building experience. I would hate to see the Alaskan teams go Independent!!!!! I hope to make it up there someday soon to watch a game and check out the great state

    • Independence is NOT the best thing for the Alaska schools. They went that route before – it just isn’t viable anymore, and neither is playing one another 10-plus times a year. No conference, no real way to get into the NCAA tournament.

  5. Homeboy

    I hear the St Cloud Huskies had a few emails sent to get into the NCHC. They weren’t even picked to play in the NCHC anyways to beginning they wanted some teams from out East BU and BC and Notee Dame. Plus isn’t St Cloud NOT considered a “like minded ” school to begin with. So they ended up in the NChC by default. Like being the last kid picked to play baseball.

    As for Western Michigan Broncos they had to Beg with a website to join the NCHC. Had Notre Dame, BU, and BC said yes they wouldn’t even be thought about joining the league that hasn’t played a game.

    To put things bluntly, St Cloud and WMU got into the NCHC because a few teams said no. Had any of those real elite teams have said yes. St Cloud and WMU would be in the nWCHA.

    Plus these teams aren’t like minded anyways refer to the original six.

    • So what is your point??? I would rather have those two teams than some crappy punching bag like an alaska team or MTU.

    • homeboy, really? not liked minded teams? really? can’t speak for wmu, but scsu is committed to their hockey program just as much as UMD, UND and Denver. Hockey is the king at scsu…

  6. 2015 will see conference championships for B1G, NCHC, and nWCHA in Mpls/St Paul. I don’t think there are enough fans to go around. Gopher and Badger fans will fill Excel. NoDak, Huskie, and Bulldog fans will draw at Target Center. Will Mankato and Bemidji bring more than a few thousand? nWCHA should go either on campus or to Green Bay. It’s more centrally located and closer to UP schools.

  7. UAH Chargers are not going to get in the nWCHA. The nWCHA teams are very poor and Alaska teams haven’t been putting up good numbers of late. Unless the Chargers pay the bill they will not get into the nWCHA. It isn’t like Air Force who pays some of the bill for even poorer AHA teams.

    The only way the UAH Chargers get in is if both Alaska teams leave the nWCHA.

    If the Alaska teams stay. The nWCHA should look to have twelve teams and by adding both Mercyhurst and Robert Morris would help Bowling Green for traveling issues in which the nWCHA brings for a team that almost folded a few seasons ago.

    So the nWCHA has only one Division One team Bowling Green which almost folded and you have bunch of poor Division Two teams located in remote areas.

    I only think both Alaska schools and UAH Chargers only add salt to the wound that is bleeding. I would pursue Robert Morris and Mercyhurst since both teams want 18 Scholarships. It helps that next seasons National Championship is in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania which help in the matter as the nWCHA in pursuit of these teams.

  8. Did that joke league get their Bruce McLeod trophy in their Colorado Springs league home trophy case, yet?

    Did they produce a beautiful logo so every top hockey recruit won’t decommit to play for a NCHC team. The running count is now ten players who have decommited and chose the CHL over these top programs. Those recruits must have heard about how really bad the new NCHC will really be. It is good to see these kids are smart by going North to play not the NCHC.

    They must have heard about the tournment they can play in is in a basketball gym. I would leave too. Canada sounds lot better then the NCHC.

    Now we have a trophy, logo, a basketball venue, wrestling commish, recruits who decommited, and teams say no.

    It sure will be exciting when this farce league gets started.

    Didn’t they kill two leagues to make one for three teams and some stagglers for the ride.

    • Chill out bro, and quit writing when you’re hammered. Either that or learn how to use proper grammar and make sense. You sound like an idiot. Good day sir.

  9. Fire McLeod!!!!!

    Why. did six teams leave?

    Why is this nWCHA in shambles with the Alaskas playing each other in the playoffs?

    Why can’t the UAh Chargers join?

    Come on look for new leadership now we can’t wait for his contract to run out, plus he is in Denver.

    Fire McLeod!!!!

  10. Please Alaska teams declare your Independence.

    Do you really expect small financially strapped Division two to support two Alaska teams it is not going to happen.

    For the good of college hockey and Alaska hockey please declare your Independence.

  11. Is Alaska going to have enough players to field a team?

    Interest must be high Alaska when a kid leaves a team and they don’t know where they are going to play or do.

    Are they going to have enough players to field a team?


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