Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Seawolves are still the 'rival'

Bemidji State is obviously very excited about joining the WCHA and opening its new arena, so much so that it has already unveiled its 2010-11 schedule (by the way, MSU won't go to Bemidji that year but will host the Beavers on Feb. 4-5, 2011.

In the Bemidji Pioneer story about the schedule, it was revealed how the WCHA is scheduling for a 12-team league. Basically, teams will continue to have playing partners or "rivals," whom they will always play four times a year and there will be a rotation of partners every year into four-team pods. That means a team will play three conference teams four times (home and away) and the other eight teams twice (half at home, half on the road), keeping the conference schedule at 28 games.

According to the story, Beavers coach Tom Serratore said the cleanest option was chosen to develop a five-year schedule. "Basically, the traditional travel partners will remain the same, with the addition of BSU being paired with (Nebraska-Omaha)," he said.

This will probably be disappointing to Minnesota State fans. The Mavericks have been paired with Alaska-Anchorage in the last scheduling arrangement. That was probably fair since they were the last two teams to join the league. But, unlike most of the other partners, there is no real rivalry with the Seawolves.

Nothing against Anchorage, but MSU should be paired with one of the new teams. Not only have the Mavericks supported Bemidji and Omaha by playing them regularly over the years, but there is a natural rivalry with them. Bemidji State was a longtime Division II hockey rival, while Omaha competed in the old North Central Conference with MSU (as well as St. Cloud and North Dakota) in other sports for many years. Also, there's the Spirit of the Maverick trophy series between MSU and UNO to think about.


Nation said...

This is very disappointing news to hear. I was really hoping that Minnesota State would get a new rival. It makes the most sense if Duluth and Bemidji are rivals. Then you could put Michigan Tech and Alaska Anchorage together. That would leave Minnesota State and Nebraska Omaha. That is what makes the most sense to me.

Donald Dunlop said...

Unfortunately, there are few good options for UAA in these "partner" schedules. Clearly MSU-M and UAA have nothing distinctive to build a rivalry around.

That's the case for UAA with every WCHA team. But to pair them with MTU would be patently unfair to UAA and MTU. Anchorage and Houghton are the two trips in the WCHA that are a pain in the ass for everyone. Why should they be stuck together? Because it makes it easier on everyone else? NFW.

The only solution that works for Anchorage is to drop the ridiculous 28 game conference schedule down to 22 when Bemidji and UNO join.

It also makes sense for the rest of the league. That way you just alternate home series each year with every other team.

For UAA, it would allow them to play their true rival (often noted as one of the most intense in the nation) UAF more than twice a year. That is something that all the Minnesota schools could do as well with the reduced conference schedule.

Don't be surprised to see this issue put forward and hopefully adopted.

Bale said...

Shane was there ever any discussion about changing up the rivalries? It seems like the league missed a golden opportunity to take advantage of some natural rivalries that exist outside of the hockey arena.

As for the 22 game schedule, that would be disaster for multiple conference teams. It's OK for the Gophers and UND, but the Mavs, St Cloud, Duluth and the Colorado teams are rumored to have been having a hard time filling up their non-conference schedule the way it is. To have to find 6 more games would be next to impossible.