Friday, I was minding my business at training when seven WCHA schools decided to blow up the WCHA. Seriously, they waited till Friday to dump this story. Why not wait till Monday to make this announcement?
But I digress.
Yes, realignment is here again: Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan have announced the exploration of a new Division I men’s hockey conference for 2021-22.
Alaska Schools Effed
The gist of the story, University Alabama- Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage, and Alaska Fairbanks are now on the outside looking in. In two seasons, they won’t have a conference to call home. It’s possible that UAH could end up in the Atlantic Hockey Association, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. As it stands right now, there’s no viable option available to the two Alaska schools.
NCHC Focusing on 8 Member Institutions
You can rule out the NCHC. This past spring, NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said, “We haven’t had a ton of discussion about the current membership makeup or even expansion into new members down the road,” Fenton said. “I think the focus has been on the eight member institutions and with all the sincerity that I can answer this question, and that continues to be the focus, and I don’t know that I see that changing anytime soon.”
The tweet below lays out what’s ahead for these seven schools.
No Advance Notice
According to a release from Alaska Fairbanks, UAF was not notified in advance of this decision nor were we alerted to the preparation of such action.
Not much the WCHA could say. Here’s their response.
BLOOMINGTON, MN – May 29, 2019 – WCHA President and Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson released the following statement today regarding Alaska Anchorage’s decision to move its home men’s hockey games back to campus beginning with the 2019-20 season.
“The University of Alaska Anchorage has notified the WCHA league office that it will move its home hockey games back on campus beginning with the upcoming 2019-20 season. At the same time, the university is finalizing a plan to expand seating at their Wells Fargo Sports Complex in the coming years.
Given the current budget climate in Alaska and the university’s commitment to men’s ice hockey, the WCHA supports this move and views it as a step towards strengthening the long-term viability of the Alaska Anchorage men’s hockey program.
UAA athletics officials have assured us that the facility will meet all other WCHA and NCAA requirements for hosting league contests in time for the upcoming season and throughout the renovation process.
The move should provide an improved atmosphere for Seawolves fans and student-athletes while raising the program’s profile on campus. The WCHA applauds these efforts and will work closely with the university throughout the renovation process to assure the facility meets all league and NCAA hosting requirements.”
I don’t think anyone can fault these seven schools for wanting to improve their lot, but only three short years ago, Minnesota State University was looking to join the NCHC. Now, they’re looking to form their own league with six other schools. Do we expect the Mavericks to again, apply to the NCHC when Arizona State finally builds an on-campus arena?