Friday, August 26, 2011

WCHA to Absorb CCHA Teams

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association extended invitations to the remaining Central Collegiate Hockey Association schools this week, and three have already accepted - Alaska (Fairbanks), Ferris State, and Lake Superior State.

The Nanooks, Bulldogs and Lakers will all join the "new" WCHA in 2013-14 and play against Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, and St. Cloud State. Northern Michigan previously rejoined the WCHA earlier this summer after spending the last 15 seasons in the CCHA. Colorado College, Denver, North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth and former CCHA member Nebraska-Omaha are all leaving the WCHA to help make up the nascent National College Hockey Conference.

Bowling Green is undecided so far about joining the WCHA, while Notre Dame and Western Michigan still seem to be weighing joining the NCHC, which also boasts current CCHA member Miami. That league will begin play two years from now, at the same time that CCHA schools Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State begin formal play in the Big Ten along with WCHA schools Minnesota and Wisconsin, and varsity newcomer Penn State.

It's still not known where current independent Alabama-Huntsville will wind up; but all these moves will definitely spell the end of the CCHA, which got its start back in 1971 with Bowling Green, Ohio, Ohio State and St. Louis. The league has crowned eight national champions since 1984, but will pass into memory after two more seasons.

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