Monday, March 22, 2010

Final Five (er, six)

As expected, the WCHA championship weekend will still be called the Final Five next year. But with Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha making it a 12-team conference, the title of the event will refer to the final five games, not teams.

The league officially announced the format change on Saturday between games at the Final Five and also unveiled the new Broadmoor Trophy, which North Dakota got to parade around the Xcel Energy Center after its championship-game victory over St. Cloud State later that night.

Following an opening-weekend first-round series in which the top six teams from the regular season host the bottom six teams, the advancing teams will be re-seeded for the Final Five.

The top two seeds will receive byes into Friday's semifinals. On Thursday, there will now be two play-in games instead of one (No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5), with the winners advancing to the semis. Fans will be able to buy a single ticket for the two-game session. Games will be played at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

From there, there will be separate sessions for the each semifinal game (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Saturday's championship game (7 p.m.). There will be no third-place game, meaning Wisconsin will be the answer to the trivia question: Who was the last team to win the WCHA's third-place game?

The WCHA also announced that the Minnesota Wild will play a regular-season game at 1 p.m. on Saturday, making for an interesting doubleheader (I'm not sure it was necessary to incorporate the Wild into the weekend; the Final Five pretty much stands on its own an Xcel event).

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