WCHA would prefer 12 teams
Now that the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has opened the door to possible expansion, who will walk through? Bemidji State of disintegrating College Hockey America is interested and will apply. But for scheduling purposes, WCHA commission...
Now that the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has opened the door to possible expansion, who will walk through?
Bemidji State of disintegrating College Hockey America is interested and will apply. But for scheduling purposes, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod says the 10-team league would rather interview two strong candidates than one. He would rather see a 12-teamconference than an 11-team conference.
After lifting a moratorium on expansion last Thursday, word was out Saturday that the WCHA was contacting schools outside the league to gauge interest. It was reported on one hockey blog that the WCHA had talked, unsolicited, to Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan (a one-time WCHA member), both of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Not so, said McLeod, who is based in Denver.
"That's not the proper way to do business. I wouldn't do that," McLeod said. "We'll wait and see who contacts us."
Northern Michigan athletic director Ken Godfrey said Wednesday his school will explore the difference in travel costs between the WCHA and the CCHA. Northern Michigan was a WCHA member from 1984 through 1997. Nebraska-Omaha coach Mike Kemp, a Duluth native, said his school has no plans to approach the WCHA, but also said he wouldn't completely discount the idea.
Interested schools have until March 31 to apply. Applications will then be reviewed and prospective members satisfying admission criteria will be invited to make a presentation at WCHA meetings April 26-28 in Marco Island, Fla. If any schools are added to the WCHA, McLeod believes a schedule can be worked out for the 2010-11 season.
While coach Tom Serratore would like to see his Bemidji State team in the WCHA, his brother, Frank, said he's not seeking a new home for his Air Force Academy team, a member of Atlantic Hockey.
"Atlantic Hockey provided us with a safe haven. We feel loyalty to Atlantic Hockey," Frank Serratore told the Denver Post. "We're happy with the league, where we have a fair chance to compete for a championship every year."
* An NCAA initiative to minimize travel costs during national tournaments, which would have affected Division I hockey, is no longer being considered, McLeod said after receiving an update last week from Wisconsin associate athletic director Sean Frazier. The proposal probably would have meant only four of 16 teams in the NCAA hockey field would be seeded, while other entrants would be placed in regional tournaments according to geography. That would have kept Western-based teams in the west and Eastern schools in the east.
Mankato next for UMD
Minnesota State Mankato (11-11-1) comes to the DECC on Friday with a one-point lead over Minnesota Duluth (11-7-6), good for sixth place in the WCHA. The Mavericks also have a one-game win streak after beating Alaska Anchorage 7-1 Saturday.
Mankato lost to Anchorage 4-2 in Mankato the night before. Coach Troy Jutting then challenged his team and sat out four veterans -- Andy Sackrison, Jason Wiley, Mike Louwerse and Nick Canzanello.
The Mavericks responded with their most goals in a WCHA game in almost three years.
"You don't like to do that, but sometimes it's necessary," Jutting said Tuesday of the player benching. "Most of the time this team goes out and competes, but we weren't getting that [in the loss to Anchorage]."
Mankato was 8-3-3 through November and has gone 3-8 the past 11 games, 3-2 the past five.