WCHA close to approving future playoff format; ‘Alaska Plan’ dumped

The Mankato Free Press reported Friday that the WCHA’s future playoff format starting in 2014 was approved by conference athletic directors late last week.

Reportedly, an eight-team format will be used in the first four years of the league, meaning two teams will not qualify for the postseason.

The format still must be approved by the school presidents, according to the report.

Under the plan, the top four teams will host first-round series with the winners advancing to a single-elimination semifinal and championship weekend at a neutral site. Van Andel Arena (2014, 2016) in Grand Rapids, Mich., and the Xcel Energy Center (2015, 2017) in St. Paul, Minn., are rumored to host the championship weekend event.

The so-called “Alaska Plan,” which would have seen Alaska and Alaska-Anchorage play one another in the first round regardless of regular-season finish, will not be utilized.

“I think we all struggled with the equity and fairness of what we adopted last summer,” said Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman in the report. “The whole integrity of the bracket would have been impacted by financial and budgetary issues.

“I feel like we’ve got some momentum now. We added [Alabama-] Huntsville [in January], we affirmed a 28-game schedule, our championship format is in a good place and we’re close to finalizing a contract with our championship venues. Every little bit feels like we’re moving in the right direction.”


  1. if its not just winning teams. (which i would guess would be the top 4) all 10 should make it. if it were me to decide. it would be all 10. (yes the wcha will be the little brother conference now) so i would want to combine the wcha tournament location with the big10 or the ncha tournament location. like the minnesota state high school league “a” and “aa”tournament.

    • That’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison you have going there, but I see what you’re getting at. I don’t know why they don’t just put all ten in the playoffs, and then keep the Final Five format that they have now, which is my favorite three day stretch of the whole year.

      • they are messy up the best tournament, but combining the sites would help the wcha and not hurt the big10 (or ncha). and would be better for d1 hockey as a whole. they can play each league on each day or play wcha in the afternoon games and the big10 (or ncha) at night. but alas this is just wishful thinking on my part. somehow it could be done. just imagine 5 days of games?

    • As a Hockey East fan, I can tell you that excluding the 9th and 10th place teams from the tournament makes for a better tournament. It can lead to more excitement in the last weeks of the regular season as seedings change and team can be on the bubble.

      Having four three-game series hosed by the top four seeds and having all teams in the playoffs have the same layoff is better for all concerned. The ninth or tenth seed in any conference is not going to be top 16 in the pairwise and the regular season should have some bearing.

      As for WCHA sharing the XCEL with other conferences for a “mega-tournament”, we enjoyed the early days of Hockey East, when HE and ECAC shared the old Garden. It was great to see other teams, especially the North Country teams Clarkson and St. Lawrence in a double bill with Hockey East team. 2 tickets to watch 6 hockey games!

      I wonder what will happen to Hockey East next year when Notre Dame joins and the following when UConn joins. I am sure there will be pressure to have all 12 teams qualify. I would prefer to keep it at eight, but I am sure that money will talk.


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