What could be one of the most highly-competitive seasons in the distinguished 62-year history of the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association's will commence this October when new league members Alabama Huntsville, Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan join Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State to compete for two of college hockey's most historic trophies – the MacNaughton Cup and the Broadmoor Trophy – and add to a seven-decade legacy that has seen a record 37 national championship teams come from this league.
Officially, the conference has released it's men's composite schedule for 2013-14.
"We anticipate a tremendous pace from day one," said Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod. "You can see it, you can feel it … and you can count on it. And as it always has been, the WCHA will be a force to reckon with.
"The dedication and commitment from our member institutions is there. We've got a passionate group of coaches and administrators who are in it to win it.
"And as we carry on the long-standing traditions of this Association, as well as those we have on our own campuses, we will also be creating new rivalries amongst our teams and forging relationships with new fans and new markets. We can't wait, and as a group, it's going to be hard to contain our excitement as we count down the next three months until puck drop 2013-14."
On-ice competition launches the weekend of Oct. 4-6 with one two-game series featuring Ferris State traveling east to take on ECAC Hockey-member Colgate on Saturday and Sunday and seven other league teams engaged in exhibition play. Alaska Anchorage will get things started on Friday when the Seawolves host University of British Columbia. On Saturday, Alaska entertains British Columbia, Bowling Green hosts Wilfrid Laurier University, Michigan Tech welcomes Laurentian University, Minnesota State hosts University of Lethbridge and Northern Michigan takes on the US Under-18 Team. On Sunday, Lake Superior State skates against the US Under-18 Team and the NMU Wildcats host Laurentian.
Over the Oct. 11-12 weekend, all ten WCHA clubs will engage non-conference foes in two-game sets, with six of those series on the road. Alabama Huntsville will skate at Hockey East Association-member Northeastern, Minnesota State will play at Providence (HEA), Bowling Green will take on host Union College (ECAC Hockey), Lake Superior will host Atlantic Hockey Association-member Robert Morris, Bemidji State heads to National College Hockey Conference-member St. Cloud State, Michigan Tech ventures to Minnesota Duluth (NCHC), and Northern Michigan engages Big Ten Conference-member and host Wisconsin. Up in Anchorage, the UAA Seawolves will host their annual Kendall Hockey Classic, a four-team field that includes WCHA foe Alaska, Air Force (AHA) and Quinnipiac (ECAC Hockey).
The last full week of non-conference play prior to the opening of the league slate will occur Oct. 15-20. On Tuesday (Oct. 15), Ferris State travels to Mercyhurst (AHA) and Bowling Green hosts Ohio State (Big 10). On Friday and Saturday, Lake Superior competes at Union College (ECAC Hockey), Bowling Green hosts Colgate (ECAC Hockey), Northern Michigan welcomes Nebraska Omaha (NCHC), Ferris State entertains St. Lawrence (ECAC Hockey), Bemidji State hosts Minnesota (Big 10), Minnesota State takes on visiting Connecticut (AHA) and Alaska hosts their own Brice Alaska Goal Rush tournament which features WCHA-rival Alaska Anchorage, Denver (NCHC) and Western Michigan (NCHC) in addition to the Nanooks. On Friday and Sunday, Michigan Tech will skate at Notre Dame (HEA).
The heart of the 2013-14 WCHA men's composite schedule will be the season-long competition for the regular season championship and MacNaughton Cup. The 140-game conference schedule will continue the 28 games per team slate and feature all league series being played on the traditional college hockey nights of Fridays and Saturdays.
"We are extremely pleased with the 28 games per team schedule that will give our fans what they most want, and that's a majority of league games," said Commissioner McLeod.
The conference slate will have each of the 10 member teams playing 28 WCHA games, 14 at home and 14 away, with the regular season champion being awarded college hockey's most renowned and valuable trophy – the MacNaughton Cup. Each team will play five other league members four times each and four others two times each. The WCHA has had a 28 games per team conference schedule in place since 1997-98.
Conference play gets underway the weekend of Friday and Saturday, October 25-26, with a pair of two-game series as the league's newest member, Alabama Huntsville, hosts Bemidji State and a pair of Upper Peninsula and longtime rivals face-off when Northern Michigan entertains Michigan Tech.
On the weekend of November 1-2, five more WCHA teams engage in their first conference series of 2013-14 as Alaska plays host to Northern Michigan, Alaska Anchorage travels to Bowling Green, Ferris State visits Alabama Huntsville and Minnesota State heads to Bemidji State.
Then on November 8-9, Lake Superior skates in their 2013-14 WCHA openers when the Lakers entertain Alaska.
The first-half of WCHA play concludes the weekend of December 13-14 with second half conference action resuming just after New Year's on January 3-4.
During the course of the 2013-14 regular season there will be a total of four weekends featuring all 10 WCHA-member teams engaged in league play. Those are November 22-23, December 6-7, February 14-15 and March 7-8 – the final weekend of the regular season.
Additional non-conference schedule highlights in the first half of 2013-14 include: Oct. 25-26 – Mercyhurst (AHA) at Alaska; Oct. 29 – Bowling Green at Ohio State (Big 10); Nov. 1-2 – Michigan Tech at Michigan (Big 10), Lake Superior State at Wisconsin (Big 10); Nov. 8-9 – Michigan State (Big 10) at Michigan Tech; Nov. 9-10 – Northern Michigan at Western Michigan (NCHC); Nov. 15-16 – St. Cloud State (NCHC) at Alabama Huntsville, Minnesota State at Minnesota (Big 10); Nov. 29-30 – Alabama Huntsville at Shillelagh Tournament in South Bend, IN (with Notre Dame/HEA, Northeastern/HEA and Western Michigan/NCHC), Miami (NCHC) at Bemidji State; Dec. 11 – Ferris State at Michigan (Big 10); Dec. 13-14 – Northern Michigan at North Dakota (NCHC); Dec. 14 – Ferris State at Michigan State (Big 10); and Dec. 27-28 – Bowling Green at Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh, PA (with Robert Morris/AHA, Boston College/HEA, Penn State/Big 10), Michigan Tech at Great Lakes Invitational at Commerica Park (outdoors) in Detroit, MI (with Michigan State/Big 10, Michigan/Big 10 and Western Michigan/NCHC), Alabama Huntsville at Wisconsin (Big 10).
During the second half, non-conference matchups include: Jan. 3-4 – Alaska Anchorage at Wisconsin (Big 10); Ferris State at the Mariucci Classic in Minneapolis, MN (with Minnesota, Colgate and Rensselaer); Jan. 10-11 – Alabama Huntsville at Notre Dame (HEA); Jan. 17-18 – Lake Superior State at Notre Dame (HEA), North Dakota (NCHC) at Bemidji State; Jan. 24-25 – Minnesota State at Minnesota Cup, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN (with Minnesota/Big 10, Minnesota Duluth/NCHC, St. Cloud State/NCHC).
The first round of WCHA playoffs for 2013-14 will be contested the weekend of March 14-16, a best-of-three series format that will feature the top eight finishers in regular season competition. The No. 1 seed will host the No. 8 seed, No. 2 will host No. 7, No. 3 will host No. 6 and No. 4 will host No. 5.
Following the first round, the four winners will advance to the 2014 Red Baron WCHA Final Five, set for March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. The two semi-final matchups on Friday will feature the No. 3 seed vs the No. 2 seed at 2:07 pm ET and the No. 4 seed vs the No. 1 seed at 7:07 pm ET. On championship Saturday, the contest for the Broadmoor Trophy and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament will face-off at 7:07 pm ET.
The 2014 NCAA Men's Division 1 Ice Hockey Championship tournament will open the weekend of March 28-30 with four regionals. On Friday and Saturday, the NCAA East Regional will be held at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT while the NCAA Midwest Regional will be played at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, OH. On Saturday and Sunday, the NCAA Northeast Regional will be held at DCU Center in Worcester, MA and the NCAA West Regional will be at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.
The four regional winners will then advance to the 2014 NCAA Men's Frozen Four (national championship), to be contested Thursday, April 10 and Saturday, April 12 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.
From the Head Coaches ...
Mike Corbett, Alabama Huntsville: "I couldn't be more excited about the direction of the Alabama Huntsville hockey program and the upcoming season, as we prepare for our first season in the historic WCHA. With a full slate of games against top-notch competition, we will have to be at the top of our game for an entire six months. There is a buzz around this city regarding the bright future of Charger hockey and we can't wait to hit the ice in October."
Matt Thomas, Alaska Anchorage: "It's an exciting time for UAA and the entire WCHA. The new alignment is going to create some new rivalries for our fans and student-athletes. We look forward to the new experiences that this will bring and the competitive nature of the conference that has always been a staple of the WCHA."
Dallas Ferguson, Alaska: "We are extremely excited for the start of our first season in the WCHA. The competition we will face week in and week out in the WCHA is going to be fierce and will definitely make for an exciting brand of hockey for our fans. It's an exciting time for our program and I can't wait to get the season started."
Tom Serratore, Bemidji State: "At Bemidji State, we have a championship history with schools like Minnesota State and Alabama Huntsville dating back to our small college hockey days. We look forward to continuing those long-standing rivalries in 2013-14, while beginning new rivalries with programs touting some of the finest traditions in college hockey. This year's schedule gives our fans and our program the best of both worlds."
Chris Bergeron, Bowling Green: "We are very excited for the 2013-14 WCHA season. As a new member to the league, we are expecting a very competitive, exciting brand of hockey. We are looking forward to starting this new chapter in BGSU Hockey history."
Bob Daniels, Ferris State: "The Ferris State hockey program looks forward with great excitement in becoming a member of the one of the most prestigious hockey conferences in the country.
"With many premiere programs residing in the WCHA, the season will prove to be exceedingly competitive and we will see a number of our member programs populating the national rankings. Given that all the members reside in hockey-crazed communities, I anticipate a lot of energy throughout the campus arenas."
Jim Roque, Lake Superior State: "We are excited to be part of a prestigious league like the WCHA and look forward to building new rivalries over the coming seasons."
Mel Pearson, Michigan Tech: "The 2013-14 WCHA season should be as exciting and competitive as any in the past. The new teams entering the league will create new rivalries that will be great for fans. Every coaches' goal is to make it to the Final Five, and I think every team in the league will have a legitimate chance to be there."
Mike Hastings, Minnesota State: "We are extremely excited and looking forward to the start of the 2013-14 season. Our new league alignment gives us a profile with programs with rich traditions and histories. We have teams that have won national titles, teams showcasing elite talent and teams with intense rivalries. We expect Minnesota State Hockey to continue to grow and flourish within this competitive environment and are anxious to get started on building upon what we were able to accomplish in 2012-13."
Walt Kyle, Northern Michigan: "Going back to the WCHA is certainly the best thing, not only for our program, but also for all the programs that are going to be in the league. At Northern Michigan, we have had a rich tradition in this league and are proud to be back and build on that tradition.
"It's a great league and I think all the teams are very similar schools with the opportunity to build some intense rivalries. The WCHA is going to prove to be one of the stronger and more competitive leagues in the country."
WCHA Final Five Playoff Championship to be Played in Grand Rapids in 2014 & 2016, Saint Paul in 2015 & 2017
League's Post-Season Tournament heading to Van Andel Arena, back at Xcel Energy Center; Revised Playoff Format Outlined
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced on March 23 (2013) that its highly-successful men's playoff championship – known as the WCHA Final Five – will head to Van Andel Arena and the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons and will return to Xcel Energy Center and the City of Saint Paul, Minn., for the 2014-15 and 2016-17 campaigns.
"We just couldn't be more pleased to be able to host the best conference post-season hockey tournament in the country in two of the premier facilities in the Midwest," said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod. "We are tremendously excited to bring WCHA championship hockey and the quest for the Broadmoor Trophy to Grand Rapids as well as continue our long-standing tradition and success of playing in Saint Paul.
"Both Grand Rapids and Saint Paul are wonderful travel destinations for fans, featuring first-class arenas centered in exciting downtown areas with noteworthy tourist attractions, great shopping, and fine hotels and restaurants. In Grand Rapids, we have the proximity of our Michigan-based WCHA teams and in Saint Paul of our Minnesota-based schools. This is truly the best of both worlds for us."
"The city of Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Sports Commission and Van Andel Arena all look forward to hosting the WCHA in 2014," said Richard MacKeigan, Regional General Manager of Van Andel Arena. "Hockey in general and college hockey specifically is a passion for West Michigan and we look forward to working with the WCHA to share that passion with the players, coaches and fans. We know your experience will be a great one in Grand Rapids, March of 2014!"
"We are pleased to once again partner with the WCHA on their championship tournament," said Xcel Energy Center Vice President and General Manager Jack Larson. "We have a long-standing tremendously successful relationship with them, and we are committed to building on this foundation for years to come."
The men's WCHA will sport a highly-competitive 10-team league for 2013-14, with membership consisting of University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University.
Along with the announcement of future championship sites, the league also unveiled both a new post-season playoff format for the upcoming 2013-14 season that will feature the top eight teams in the final regular season standings engaging in first-round, best-of-three playoff series at the home site of the top four finishers, followed by the four first-round winners advancing to the WCHA Playoff Championship the following weekend, which would consist of two semifinal games on the first day of the event followed by the Broadmoor Trophy title contest on day two. The dates of the 2014 WCHA Final Five at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids are March 21-22 (Friday/Saturday) with the return to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul for the 2015 WCHA Playoff Championship set for March 20-21 (Friday/Saturday).
The WCHA Final Five will alternate between those two midwestern venues, with the newly-formed Big Ten Conference playing their post-season event at Xcel Energy Center every other year beginning in 2014. Xcel Energy Center has been home to the WCHA Final Five since 2001 and the WCHA has held a men's post-season tournament annually since 1959-60, although in a number of different formats.
Van Andel Arena, located in the heart of Grand Rapids, is a 10,834-seat multi-purpose arena that opened in October of 1996 and has since attracted over five million patrons. It serves as the home of the popular Grand Rapids Griffins ice hockey team, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, and has hosted NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Regionals in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 in addition to numerous marquee concerts and shows. Van Andel Arena will also host the 2013 NCAA Men's Hockey West Regional on March 29-30.
Van Andel Arena: http://vanandelarena.com
Xcel Energy Center, located in downtown Saint Paul, has a seating capacity of 17,954 and is home to the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild and has hosted the men's WCHA Final Five since 2001. Xcel Energy Center has also hosted the NCAA Men's Frozen Four in 2002 and 2011 and NCAA Men's Hockey Regional tournaments in 2010, 2012 and will again in 2014.
Xcel Energy Center: http://www.xcelenergycenter.com
The men's WCHA Playoff Championship has drawn 1,564,489 fans and averaged nearly 13,400 fans per game since 1988, when the league's four-team final round was contested at the Saint Paul Civic Center between 1988-92. Beginning in 1993, the league went to a Final Five and for the next eight seasons and through 2000, was played at the Saint Paul Civic Center (1993, 1995, 1997), the Bradley Center in Milwaukee (1994, 1996, 1998) and Target Center (1999, 2000). Since moving into Xcel Energy Center for the 2001 WCHA Final Five, the league has consistently drawn some of college hockey's biggest crowds for its championship, including a total of 923,566 fans over the past 12 years and an average of 15,393 fans per game.
What We Play For - WCHA Regular Season Championship and MacNaughton Cup
Dating back nearly 100 years to its original purchase in 1913, handcrafted of pure silver, standing three-feet high, and weighing more than 40 pounds, the MacNaughton Cup is the shining symbol of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and of its long-time standing as one of college hockey's premier conferences since it's founding in 1951.
The MacNaughton Cup is awarded annually to the winner of the regular season championship, and as a traveling trophy, is on display throughout the course of each season at the home of the previous year's winner. Beginning in 2005-06, the WCHA also began awarding a smaller silver replica MacNaughton Cup to the regular season champion(s) each season.
The MacNaughton Cup has traveled a long and winding road since its initial purchase in 1913 by the Calumet (Michigan) and Hecla Mining Company, but officially settled into a home with the original WCHA (MCHL/WIHL) in 1951.
In 1913, James MacNaughton, then president of Calumet and Hecla, Inc., and an avid supporter of amateur ice hockey, authorized the president of the American Amateur Hockey Association to purchase a cup (he said the price didn't matter) and present it to the Association's championship team at the end of the season. The first winner was a team from the Cleveland (Ohio) Athletic Club. The MacNaughton Cup remained with the AAHA until it ceased operations in 1920.
From 1921 to 1950, the Cup was fought for by semi-pro and intermediate hockey aggregations in Michigan's Copper Country. In 1951, the cup was donated by Calumet and Hecla, Inc., through the generosity of Mr. & Mrs. Endicott R. Lovell, to the newly-founded Midwest Collegiate Hockey League, forerunner of the WCHA. Lovell, president of the company at that time and the son-in-law of James MacNaughton, was also a ardent supporter of amateur hockey.
The MCHL chose – in the original spirit – to award the trophy to its regular season champion. The MacNaughton Cup remained a part of the MCHL/WIHL until the league disbanded in March of 1958 for one year. In 1959-60, the seven original teams resumed formal competition under the new name of Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The MacNaughton Cup has gone to the regular season winner on all but seven occasions since 1951. From 1962-65, the MacNaughton Cup was presented to the league playoff winner. In 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1983-84, the trophy left the league with Cup custodian Michigan Tech and was presented to the champion of the CCHA.
WCHA Final Five Playoff Championship and Broadmoor Trophy
The second of the WCHA's two major championship trophies for men's competition is the Broadmoor Trophy, which has been awarded annually since 1985 to the winner of the conference's post-season championship tournament.
The history of the Broadmoor Trophy dates to 1981, when it was first presented to the conference by the world-renowned Broadmoor Hotel and Resort Complex of Colorado Springs, Colo. For the first three seasons of its partnership with the WCHA (1981-1984) – and due to the departure of league member and MacNaughton Cup (regular season championship trophy) custodian Michigan Tech to the CCHA – the Broadmoor Trophy was presented to the Association's regular season champion. But when the Huskies returned to the WCHA in 1984 – with the MacNaughton Cup in hand – the Broadmoor Trophy became, and has remained since, the symbol of the league's post-season tournament championship.
In March of 2010, in conjunction with the annual WCHA Final Five, the Association unveiled a striking new Broadmoor Trophy. The new bronze cast trophy, created by Blue Ribbon Trophies & Awards of Colorado Springs, Colo., is a recreation of the famous Broadmoor Hotel. Long an ardent supporter of college hockey, the Broadmoor Hotel included the former Broadmoor World Arena, which hosted the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship a total of 11 times between 1948 and 1969.
There are a total of three Broadmoor trophies. The largest is currently on display at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul in conjunction with the WCHA Final Five, one is a traveling trophy, and one is awarded to the winning team each year as a permanent addition to their display case.