The CCHA made a pretty surprising decision today, denying Alabama-Huntsville admission into the league. UAH will now be the only CHA team without a home when the league disbands. Niagara and Robert Morris will be absorbed into Atlantic Hockey, while Bemidji State will be in the WCHA. I, for one, am shocked. Think abou tthe “little guys” that were the foundation of the CCHA: Lake State, Ferris State, Northern Michigan, Bowling Green, etc. Now, the CCHA has decided they are too good for another little school in UAH. With Nebraska-Omaha moving to the WCHA, UAH seems a perfect replacement. For example, from Huntsville to Ann Arbor, Michigan it is 10 hours and 2 minutes (via Google Maps). From Omaha to Ann Arbor it is 10 hours and 36 minutes. And Huntsville is significantly closer to Miami and Ohio State. Huntsville would likely have no problem drawing fans, as Alabama is football country and everyone knows of Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Huntsville had tradition at the Division 2 level, and has had success in its infancy at Division 1. They won the CHA championship in 2007 and gave Notre Dame a run for its money in the first round of that NCAA Tournament.
CCHA bylaws required 9 of 11 members to vote yes (Omaha wasn’t allowed a vote) and it appears enough of the “little guys” said no. On the surface, I don’t have a huge problem with the big boys saying no. After all, they’re in the cat bird’s seat. Still, the little guys should have stepped up. Fairbanks, a place no one wants to go to, said no, citing a “lack of commitment.” Really? Huntsville has had to survive playing DII hockey, in Alabama. Not in Alaska, where it may be far flung but at least it’s cold and a traditional hockey market. Alabama. Huntsville was also a founding member of College Hockey America. Bowling Green, which just got funding for their arena, looks like they are a decent bet to still be in the league. So the CCHA will be an 11 team league, and Huntsville will be out in the cold.
Alaska AD Forrest Karr said “I hope this is not a death sentence for them, and I hope it’s not the end of their program. The last thing anyone wants to see is the loss of any Division I college hockey program.” That’s like President Truman voting not to send troops to liberate Europe, but saying he hopes the Holocaust ends.
This year’s Frozen Four is one that has blow-out potential, mixed in with possible intrigue. Two teams, Bemidji State and Miami, meet in the first Frozen Four for each of them, while the top overall seeded Terriers meet Hockey East foe Vermont in the second semi. While on paper BU appears to be the heavy favorite, Vermont is probably the last team they want to see in the semis, as I’ll get to later.
If BU can win their semifinal over Vermont, casual college hockey fans will have a team to cheer for in the finals, either the upstart Beavers or the RedHawks, although being out west I do know that a lot of fans are jealous of Miami’s success and resulted reputation over the past couple of years, so Vermont or BU could have some extra fans come Saturday night. Read more…
Grand Rapids is the site of our Midwest Regional. It features three very good teams, three in fact who could win the regional, but it also features the best team in the country, and my pre-tournament pick for the national championship.
The Fighting Irish come in on a hot streak, having won both the CCHA regular season and playoff championships. The Irish can bring it both offensively and defensively. Although players like Erik Condra, Christian Hanson and Ryan Thang steal all the headlines, Calle Ridderwall is the player who leads this team with 17 goals. The Irish don’t have a player over a goal per game, but they have six guys who are in double digits in goals. Defensively they are led by first round pick, and one of my personal favorite players, Ian Cole. Cole does everything for this team. He can score (26 points) and he plays very solid defense. In net, Jordan Pearce has been fantastic, although it’s a bit easier for him to be given the defense he has in front of him. They’ll easily run Bemidji out of the building. Read more…
The soon to be defunct four team College Hockey America tournament takes place March 13th and 14th in Bemidji, home of the league champion Bemidji State Beavers.
Truth be told, this isn’t a good conference – at all – but a Niagara-Bemidji State final is just intriguing enough to tune in. The conference features only one team, Niagara, more than one game over .500 overall, and only one team, Niagara again, who has outscored their opponents on the season. Read more…