WCHA Weekend Picks, Feb. 20-21

Three weeks left in the regular season and…. four teams are off this week.

Not sure why it worked out what way because it definitely would have been more exciting to have all 10 teams in action for ever game in the final month of the season.

Oh well… C’est la vie.

Six teams are in action and there’s still plenty on the line. (Maybe not for me; I’m not sure how Shane got so far ahead of me in the picks but it looks like I’ll be owing him at least a beverage or two when the Mavericks are in Bemidji in two weeks).

Enough nonsense. Here’s the picks.

Northern Michigan at Bowling Green

Shane: Everybody wants home ice for the playoffs, and the Falcons are within an eyelash of getting it. Bowling Green may not catch Minnesota State and Michigan Tech, but it’s been consistently good all year. The Wildcats, however, are in a dogfight to get the final spot, and things seem to be trending downward for them. Bowling Green took three of four points when these teams met in Marquette in early December. I think we’ll see something similar this weekend. Falcons 3-1, 3-2

Jack: The Wildcats are one of those teams who started hot and set itself up nicely with wins early in the season. It’s been a struggle for them of late. Meanwhile BG hasn’t had many stumbles. I think they’re going to get another sweep. Falcons 4-1, 4-2

Ferris State at Alabama Huntsville

Shane: Who made this schedule for the Bulldogs? Just brutal over the second half of the season. The Bulldogs return to the road this weekend, going to Huntsville to play a Chargers team that’s on the cusp of making the postseason. When Huntsville split at Ferris in November, everyone was surprised. They won’t be this weekend. Bulldogs 3-1, Chargers 3-1

Jack: I hadn’t even realized that Ferris had been on a seven-game skid until finally beating Bowling Green in the second game of their series last week. It’s going to be tough for them to get out of this rut this weekend – the Chargers are bouncing back after being worked over at Michigan Tech later in January. I’ll call a split. Chargers 3-2, Bulldogs 3-1 

Alaska Anchorage at Bemidji State

Shane: Here are two teams going in very different directions. The Beavers have played themselves into home-ice contention with a strong second half, going 7-4-1 since the calendar turned. The Seawolves are reeling and, after suffering their worst loss as a WCHA team last Saturday, are on the verge of sitting out this year’s playoffs. Beavers 5-1, 4-2

Jack: Hard to believe last weekend’s sweep of Northern Michigan was BSU’s first two road wins since the first game of the season, but they couldn’t have come at a better time for the Beavers. The wins pulled them even with NMU for the final home-ice slot. Plus, they have the tiebreaker over NMU. In short: BSU controls its own destiny. I think they’ll be able to keep pace against the Seawolves and get the sweep. Beavers 4-1, 6-2

Last week: Shane 4-5-1, Jack 5-4-1

Overall: Shane 102-64-16, Jack 87-79-16

83 COMMENTS

      • Todd

        Could you also put the number of teams in each league for 2013-2014 based on the current known configuration? For example, Hockey East 10 teams, ECAC 12 teams, etc. Otherwise, thanks for making all these changes clearer to us!

  1. Todd – I read your story. Commission Bruce McLead was grabbed almost all the CCHA’s teams to WCHA. He doesn’t  think to share  about what 4 teams (Niagara, Mercyhurst, Robert Morris and Canisius) from AHA who wants have 18 scholarships and would be moving to CCHA in 2013-14. That’s not right! WCHA invited to Bowling Green. But Bowling Green, which was a founding member of the CCHA back in 1971, is facing a future without a home. Bowling Green are great to have all teams in CCHA. Bowling Green was established with CCHA. They would be staying in CCHA. and open positions for AHA teams and UAH to joining to the CCHA. All total will be 6 or 8 teams on CCHA in 2013-14. probably in after 2017. Few teams would move back to CCHA from WCHA or NCHC who knows. Keep CCHA stay alive. STOP! Be grabbed to CCHA ‘s teams by WCHA – commission Bruce McLeod. :-C

    • Bowling Green has an open invite from the WCHA to join. Bowling Green has not exercised its option to join the WCHA. They have 30 days from the original invite date to accept the invitation of the WCHA. The botton line is that Bowling Green will have a home in a conference, just like Notre Dame and Western Michigan.

      I strongly suspect that Bowling Green and Western Michigan are waiting for an invite from the NCHC, while the NCHC waits for Notre Dame to announce its intention to join Hockey East, the NCHC or the WCHA.

      Other than Alabama-Huntsville, every D-I hockey program has a home or has an invite to join a league. The CCHA will be gone in two years, which is sad news for us hockey fans back east, even though we have not seen any changes. At least yet. Notre Dame could still cause a small ripple if they decide to play in Hockey East, as Hockey East has categorically stated it will always have an even number of teams for scheduling purposes. 

  2. I am guessing Notre Dame goes independent and gets their games teelvised on Versus/NBC Sports. Then Western joins NCHA. The question is then , who would the NCHA rather have to make it an even 8 teams….St. Cloud State or Bowling Green? My guess is even though SCSU has been better talent wise lately, the NCHA would prefer Bowling Green because they are a D1 school with D1 money.

    • Here how I think it works out.

      A: Notre Dame goes to NCHC. Western Michigan goes with them to NCHC. Bowling Green goes to WCHA. Alabama-Huntville remains independent.NCHC has 8 schools, WCHA has 10 schools. The dancing stops there. 70% chance of happening
      B. Notre Dame goes to Hockey East. Western Michigan and Bowling Green go to NCHC. Alabama-Huntsville gets invited to WCHA. Random team X from AHA goes to Hockey East. NCHC has 8 teams, WCHA has 10 teams. Hockey East has 12 teams. Atlantic Hockey has 11 teams. (Hockey East will not go to 11 school league. It is either 10 current or 12, 14 or another multiple of 2.) 25% chance of happening.
      C. Notre Dame goes independent and has no one to schedule during league play, since HE, ECAC, AHA, WCHA, BTHC and NCHC all have an even number of teams. Notre Dame is independent only in football and only because of the national football fanbase. Western Michigan and Bowling Green go to NCHC. Alabama-Huntsville gets invited to WCHA. NCHC has 8 teams and WCHA has 10 teams. 5% of happening.

      It is possible in scenario B that WCHA would not invite Alabama-Huntsville, but play them during league weekends until it added UM-Moorhead’s proposed program.

      In the end, HE 10 teams (12) ECAC 12 teams, AHA 12 (11) teams, BTHC 6 teams, WCHA 10 teams, NCHC 8 teams, Independent 1 team (0)

      • “Random Team X from AHA goes to Hockey East.”

        Random X team is UCONN.  They’re already in the WHEA and are a natural fit with all the other New England state schools in the league.  I actually think UCONN to HEA was inevitable anyway, this would just expedite that move.

        • I completely agree with this assessment, but in other threads people have pointed out some concerns to be ironed out, the biggest being Title IX and UConn’s current reluctance to offer scholarships for Men’s Hockey.

          I see a large television market, a large public university with a very successful athletic program that has alumni in New York and Boston, and ties to the World Wide Leader. Hockey East on ESPNU would be a nice fit.

          If not UConn, Hockey East would find another New England school from AHA. The only ECAC schools in New England are part of the Ivy League in all other sports and they will not leave to join HE. They would leave to create a six-team Ivy League Hockey Conference. The New York schools will stick together for rivalry and travel purposes.

  3. My question is who is going to be the last CCHA member?

    Bowling Green, WMU, and Notre Dame? NCHC or WCHA or Hockey East?

    Bowling Green said in Bowling Green blogs and newspaper have stated that they will accept the WCHA offer for 2013-2014.

    They know they will not get an invite to the NCHC. They will try to poach another member maybe St Cloud.

    Why doesnt WMU go to the NCHC? I heard they were approached? They wouldnt have to wait for Notre Dames decision.

  4. When talking about Notre Dame, you always have to look at the football realignment that Texas A & M is kicking off.  The Big 10 and Southeast Conferences will probably grow to 16 teams.  Notre Dame is always mentioned with the Big 10, though they have always resisted.  At some point, the money might just be too big, especially if their FB team keeps losing.  NBC might not stay with them forever.  If this happens, the hockey team will be in the Big 10.  Also makes one wonder if this is why they have been non-commital about hockey confernces to date.

  5. Awesome article, I was just wondering now that most of the dominos have fallen except for the big blue and gold one, the picture should be a lot clearer now

    • KR – If the Ivies left for their own league, it would be a six-team league with a VERY short season, as the Ivy League does not play games during exam periods. This is why the Ivy League football champion does not play in the FCS (D-I AA) playoffs. Since all six Ivy League teams are Division I, they keep their D-I seat.

      The Ivy League Hockey conference would have an autobid with six schools and consist of: Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, with Columbia and Penn currently not fielding D-I hockey.

      The ECAC would retain its autobid with six schools and consist of : Clarkson, Colgate, Quinnipiac, RPI, St Lawrence and Union. Colgate and Quinnipiac are D-I schools across the board, so ECAC and ILHC would both have a seat at the D-I table.

      I personally see little difference between a 12-team ECAC and two 6-team leagues, other than autobids. The conferences would probably each other during “league” play, even if it were one less game per team for “non-conference” games between ILHC and ECAC. For example, two teams would travel to Clarkson/St Lawrence and swap Friday/Saturday opponents.

      The Ivies are definitely stable enough and well-funded enough to make their own league. The non-Ivies are all in New York State and Western Connecticut (Fairfield County IIRC), so travel makes sense. I am not sure if AHA would poach schools, be poached or pull a WCHA/CCHA style merger.

      ECAC is a stable league and the Ivies are satisfied with the current state of affairs. I have not heard any of the schools complaining about anything. I always wonder about their post-season tournament, as it has been in search of a permanent natural home. My guess is that if the Ivies left, they would not host a tournament and give the autobid to the regular season winner like they do in a basketball and football.

      If a non-Ivy ECAC were to be formed, I imagine that the tournament would be moved to Albany/Syracuse on a nearly permanent basis. Perhaps they would rotate. You can count Rochester out as long as RIT is in AHA and count Buffalo out as long as Niagara is in AHA.

    • I’d make a case that Air Force would be a good candidate for the NCHC, much better that the suggestions of Bowling Green and Western Michigan.  NCHC is a much better fit geographically for Air Force than Atlantic Hockey.  Notre Dame goes to NCHC, Bowling Green and W. Michigan go to WCHA, Alabama Hutsville goes to Atlantic Hockey, and all God’s children have a home.

      • There is NO chance that Air Force gets an invite to the new NCHC. They just don’t put the money into their college hockey program to get the invite. So that isn’t going to happen.

  6. For the best of college hockey i would like to see Notre Dame ignore the NCHC. Why?

    Because it would be better for college hockey to have Bowling Green and WMU to play in the NCHC. Both teams would take a downward slide in the WCHA going to small barns with no natraul rivals of going to places like Soo, Houghton, Bemdji,,Mankato and St Cloud.

    In the NCHC both Bowling Green and WMU could play their MAC foe Miami and each other which would be a bonus. Plus they could play NC games against MSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and OSU.

    By playing in the WCHA they downplaying themselves to D2 schools in a far distance. In the NCHC they play equal opponents ie similar programs plus make room to play strong NC teams.

    So please Notre Dame go Independent or Hockey East.

    Also, Denver, CC, UMD, UNO and ND, let Bowling Green and WMU in and shutout Notre Dame for the good of college hockey if you know what i mean.

    By this happening the WCHA could look to expand with Moorhead, UAH Chargers, Robert Morris, or Mercyhurst.

    • You obviously haven’t been tortured the past 15 years like me, seeing Bowling Green and Western come to town to play hockey.  Year in year out, they are very mediocre programs.  The stands are often half empty when they come to town!

      • I could see both BG and WMU disappearing in a league with northern Michigan teams, northern Minnesota teams, and Alaska teams. With a big league of 11-12 teams they wouldnt have too many NC games to play and no rivals with teams that are D2 schools. Travel to these small towns would be very costly. Both schools are enjoyed the CCHA as they had all close teams to play ie MSU, Michgan, Miami, OSU, Notre Dame.

        It would benifit both schools to play in a small league NCHC of 8 schools with very similar D1 schools. They could play the league schedule and have lots of room to schedule local teams(OSU,MSU,Mich, ND, in NC play.

        The MAC factor also plays into the equation. League games against Miami, BG and WMU would be good PR for the league in Michigan and Ohio.

        Both programs could grow  playing opponents with top notch programs from the WCHA and recruiting and exposure will help in the long run.

        I believe both WMU and BG programs would die in the new WCHA. Travel would kill the programs,no rivals, and no room for NC games against local college teams. 

        Would rather be a big house in a small city or a small house in a big city?

  7. From a Gophers fan perspective; don’t care for the “new” BIG 10 alignment which effectively kills some storied rivalries from the “old” WCHA, namely UMD and UND. Also a bit of a step back for some of the other MN State colleges especially BSU who lobbied hard for membership with a new arena and have grown into their D1 shoes rather quickly. Might be a bit harder for teams to make the tournament Was excited to see Blais and UNO come in as well.  I get it that alot of the old teams will show up at times on the schedule but will PENN ST hockey even matter? If anything It’ll create more fan apathy inside more than a few rinks this season and that won’t sell tickets.Good luck with that. Ok so I’m whining!

  8. Here is my feeling on the Big Picture of the new WCHA.

    First, I see it for MTU it is like having friends for many years and all sudden it looks like St Cloud will be the latest to bail on MTU and the WCHA. Wouldnt it have been easier for mtu to save the CCHA with their team and cup.

    Heres my picture of the New WCHA 2013-2014

    MTU Huskies- lack of wins, leadership(to many coaches over the years), remote
                          area nobody wants to go beat up. lack of bluechippers.
                          Living in the past(3 NCAAs nobody remembers)

    NMU Wildcats– Future NCHC team, great leadership, great city for small town,  Gets bluechippers, Has some NCAA appearences, Could win league many years before being accepted into NCHC.(1 NCAA Championship) 

    LSSU Lakers– Jumped at the WCHA, remote town, great history, lack of wins lately, (3 NCAA championships)

    Ferris State- Just in a bad location in a small rink,

    WMU Broncos- The NCHC just wont take them. NHL coach-great. Kalmazoo just isnt appealing enough for the big time college hockey citys. Lack of leadership(coach changes). North Dakota and Denver just dont want to visit.

    Bowling Green–lack of fans, wins, money, and appeal. Great history. Just doesnt have support to play in the NCHC. Western teams dont want to play BG.

    Bemdji- Glad to be in the WCHA better then Division 3.

    Mankato- Lack of wins and appeal. At least it is a minnesota school which teams want to play.

    UAA and Alaska— Both teams are here because nobody wants to travel here anymore if they dont have to. So the small schools and the MAC schools will get left the privalage to fly every year.

    A league of small towns in the remote woods and big schools that nobody wants to play.

     Like they say in the real estate business LOCATION, LOCATION, AND LOCATION.

    And thats what the 2013-2014 New WCHA will lack.

  9. In summary there are 3 well established Division 1 college hockey conferences unchanged Atlantic, ECAC & Hockey East.2 new conferences, The Big 10 & NCHC, that are made from major colleges or highly successfull hockey programs.This leaves the “new” WHCA. As of today the 2013-14 league is 9 Division II schools with Division I Hockey programs.I think the “new” WCHA should get TWO automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The WCHA’s & the CCHA’S. That would balance the scales of division I college hockey a bit and help support the new WCHA which will probably be the financialy weakest and most at risk league in division I hockey.

  10. .
    So here is to every thing coming down to the last game of the last series… and Michigan Tech raising the cup!

    Cheers!
    .

    • Going to be a a fun final four weeks of WCHA hockey. My prediction (I’ll send USCHO the bill):
      MSU and MTU split Feb. 27, 28. @ Mankato
      MTU sweeps Northern Michigan
      MSU wins one and ties one @ Bemidji
      Leaving MSU the Champs with the tiebreaker belonging to MSU!

    • With the speed-bump vs. ND behind them, your Terriers are looking pretty good JC… Rodiguez has stepped it up big-time in his senior year.

  11. Why is it every year Minnesota is the host team in the Western Regional, that way they never have to travel east. Come on NCAA have someone else host the Western Regional

    • Not every year, usually every three to four years though they have it in Minnesota. Seems like they do a rotation of Fargo/Grand Forks, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Madison, and then randomly throw in a Denver or Colorado Springs West Regional.

      • more like every other year for the twin cities. 00′ west reg, 02′ frozen four, 03′ west regional, 05′ west regional, 09′ west regional, 10′ west regional, 11′ frozen four, 12′ west regional, 14′ west regional, 16′ west regional

        • Throw out the frozen four cause we are talking about regionals and not the Finals, but yes lately minnesota has had it a lot probably because they have better time selling tickets there, even if minnesota isn’t in the tourney.

          • Exactly. The NC$$ is about fans in the stands. When you have a regional in St Paul, your pretty much guranteed to have one or more local teams with a decent fan base in attendance. UND, MN, St Cloud, Mankato, and Duluth are all within reasonable driving distance.

          • my point in adding the frozen fours to the list was to show the years it was impossible for them to host the west regional due to already being the host of the frozen four. excluding the years they hosted the frozen four that’s 8 out of the last 15 years hosting the west regional (5 out of the last 7). major home field advantage given to Minnesota every other year.

          • They do it because they want the most turnout, and that is where they will get the most fans regardless of whether minnesota is in the tournament. They can throw North Dakota, St. Cloud, Duluth, Mankato there and get a great turnout no matter what.

          • my point is that Minnesota is ALWAYS the host rather than those other teams you mentioned. this year there is a very good chance that either st. cloud or und will have to go to Cincinnati because the gophers got to host their 5th regional in the last 7 years (excluding 2011 when they already had the FF). its nice to know that you are going to get a couple of home games in the playoffs every other year. no other team in the country has that advantage as often as the gophers. their biggest trouble over this span of the last 8 years is actually using this advantage by making the tournament consistently.

          • Minnesota is “ALWAYS the host” in St. Paul because Minnesota is ALWAYS the school who submits the bid to host there. Any of the other Minnesota schools (or the NCHC or the WCHA) have the ability to submit bids to host in St. Paul. I don’t know why they haven’t done so, but they haven’t.

            As for SCSU or UND having to go to Cincinnati, your argument makes absolutely no sense. One of them would have to go to Cincy anyways if they both end up as 1 seeds. They can’t both be in St. Paul and Minnesota being the host school doesn’t affect that one bit. You’d only have a gripe if Minnesota was, say, the #4 overall seed and was placed in St. Paul, which would force SCSU to Cincy and UND out east in this week’s bracket. You can hate the Gophers all you want, but your stated reasons for hating them here are misguided.

          • where did I ever say that “I hate the Gophers”? I, just like you, don’t know the reason that none of the other schools bid on the west region in the cities, but there must be a reason why the Gophers are the only ones. I was just pointing out that they have a major advantage over everyone else in college hockey. as for my point of st. cloud or und having to go to Cincinnati I didn’t really explain well what I was getting at. What I was getting at was if St. Cloud were the host in the cities for once, they would know where they would be playing for the regionals and would be able to plan accordingly and a few weeks down the road if things stay the same as they are now, und fans would know by process of elimination where they are going. This gives traveling fans the opportunity to plan a trip more than a week in advance. Gopher fans have the perk of rarely having to plan a trip anywhere in the regionals and also have the perk of deciding the day of the game if they want to walk up and by a ticket.

          • If I had to guess why the Gophers are the only ones who have hosted in St. Paul, I would say it probably has to do with money. I believe there are costs and potential financial risks for host institutions, and maybe the Minnesota athletic department is the only one in the state with a big enough budget to assume any risk? That doesn’t explain why the WCHA or NCHC haven’t bid though.

            I will concede hosting can be an advantage for the Gophers, especially compared to other Western teams. Ironically though, outside of the regionals in 2012 and 2014, the Gophers results at the Xcel Energy Center have been terrible in the last 10 years or so when looking at Final Five, Big Ten Tourney, Northstar Cup, etc. I’d also be willing to bet Fargo will end up hosting a regional every other year if the NCAA sticks to neutral sites. If other schools want to change it, they should come up with viable hosting bids. If the Cincinnati and Toledo situations are good enough for the NCAA, there has to be ways for other schools to host in the upper Midwest. North Dakota put forth a bid in Fargo and now they’re being rewarded with hosting last year and next year.

            Out east, it seems BC or BU get to play in Worcester every other year (I know they don’t host though), and it seems the East and Northeast regional sites aren’t more than a couple hour drive from most schools, which is easier for the fans to travel on short notice.

          • Its kind of a crap shoot when it comes to hosting, you have to submit your bid years before and hope your team is good enough to benefit from being the host. With the likes of North Dakota and Minnesota the risk is worth the reward. I think the other minnesota schools think it is not worth hosting when they’ll have a good chance of getting to play there anyway, like duluth in 2009, and like st. cloud in 2010. This year it looks like the gophers may not even make it.

  12. I would go with 2 regional sites and games played on Thursday/Saturday and Friday/Sunday

    St Paul Regional:
    Minnesota vs St Cloud (Thursday/Saturday)
    Minnesota State vs North Dakota (Friday/Sunday)
    Omaha vs Notre Dame (Thursday/Saturday)
    Denver vs Michigan (Friday/ Sunday)

    Worcester Regional
    Robert Morris vs Quinnipiac (Thursday/Saturday)
    Massachusetts-Lowell vs Boston College (Friday/Sunday)
    Yale vs Boston University (Thursday/Saturday)
    Harvard vs Providence (Thursday/Saturday)
    Two teams come out of each Regional for the Final 4

        • Totally wrong. You are merely doing East and West rankings, completely disregarding PWR. PWR rankings have overall pairings as #1/#8/#9#16, #2/#7/#10/#15, #3/#6/#11/#14, #4/#5/#12/#13. You are simply ranking each team in the 2 Regionals, totally bogus. As I stated, you are disregarding PWR rankings.

          • if you want 1 playing 16, 2 playing 15 Im ok with that also. But don’t cry then when your team Denver has to travel east to play Providence. Plus right now they don’t rank the teams in the regionals using the PWR rankings.

          • Take a look at what they have right now if your talking disregarding PWR. There is not one game that would meet the PWR.
            1/15, 2/16, 3/13, 4/14, 5/11, 6/10, 7/9, 1/10. Where is the integrity in there final bracket.

    • So, the Best of East vs Best of West… 1E vs 2W and 1W vs 2E in the FF. I’m OK with it… But too many others will have an issue with it… Fairness, and bracket integrity being two of them.

      • I think its fair, if you look all number 1 seeds are playing 4 seeds, and 2 seeds playing 3 seeds. That’s just the way its working out right now. I’m for the fans also. West fans don’t have to travel east and east fans don’t have to travel west

        • You or I might consider it… But I seriously doubt most fans (like DU below) and coaches, ADs, administrators, and teams alike, will accept the “probability” that a less-deserving team outside the top 16 will get in, more times than not. An interesting (albeit radical) proposal nonetheless.

  13. Only a big school like Minnesota gets to be a host??? Stupid. Minnesota State is still in MN. Very stupid philosophy…NCAA just wants money and does not exhibit a fair setup. They take a week off between before the frozen 4. Why dont they have 3 weekends of hockey and have #1-#8 play HOME games the first round and get what they have earned. 2nd weekend have 2 regionals. 3rd weekend have the frozen 4…

    • They used to do that, they changed it in 2003 to the four regionals. I personally wouldn’t care if it changed or not, but like many people on here have said the current format gives smaller schools a better chance then giving the top teams a real home ice advantage by letting them host it at their own rink. An argument can be made for either though.

    • Minnesota is the host because Minnesota submitted the bid to be the host. MN State, SCSU, UMD, and Bemidji St. (not to mention specific conferences like the NCHC or WHCA) all have the option of applying to host in St. Paul, but they haven’t, so you can’t put that on the Gophers or the NCAA. You can say they often choose St. Paul to host in hopes of higher attendance because of Minnesota, but nothing is stopping other schools from hosting in St. Paul, as far as I know.

      To your second point, they take the week off between the regionals and Frozen Four (at least in my opinion) primarily because the basketball Final Four occurs during that off-weekend. The Frozen Four would get buried beneath the basketball coverage, so they wait a week to give hockey a bigger stage.

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