Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New WCHA? Old WCHA? MSU should be favorite

With all of the offseason changes happening at Denver, Minnesota and North Dakota (yes, I know we still have a weekend remaining in the college hockey season), it seems like Minnesota State might have been poised to make another big move in the WCHA next season, perhaps even win the league.

Of course, that's the old WCHA. Those teams will be gone in the impending conference shakeup. Considering the Mavericks' turnaround season, it would have been interesting to see how they would have fared in one more season in the old league.

But the changes are coming, and the Mavericks ought to be the favorite in the new WCHA. They were the only team of that group to make the NCAA tournament and, of course, will return the bulk of this year's team.

Talking to folks at the Midwest Regional two weekends ago in Toledo, most people seemed to think the new WCHA was going to be a fine, competitive league. And even if it's considered a "mid-major" compared to the Big Ten, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Hockey East, so what? The ECAC is thought of that way, and it has two teams in the Frozen Four this week.

The subject of the conference shakeup was discussed in Toledo because the four teams represented (five, if you include host-school Bowling Green) the WCHA and the CCHA but would be part of three different leagues next year: MSU and Bowling Green to the new WCHA, Miami and St. Cloud State to the NCHC and Notre Dame to Hockey East with the CCHA dissolving.

You can read comments from the four coaches here, but here's the full transcript of what MSU's Mike Hastings had to say about the future of the WCHA:
"First of all, we’re still going to end up focusing on what is the WCHA up until this point and until we move into this next stage next year. But from my standpoint and in talking about Bowling Green right away, you go ahead and you look at the progress that coach Chris Bergeron has made at that program in his short time there, and you look at the history of NCAA championships with Northern Michigan and Lake State -- programs that are going to be made up in the new WCHA. Final four appearances by Bemidji State -- that’s something that I look at. ...
"We’re going to deal with what we’re dealt, and there’s certain decisions that we control and we try to talk about those every day and then there are certain decisions that don’t. We’ll move on to that -- we’re very proud of being part of the WCHA and what it is now and what it’s going to be tomorrow. Because you go on and look at history, and I think the WCHA has a pretty proud, rich history. And we’re going to try and continue to build on that in the new WCHA, and that’s no disrespect to the NCHC, Hockey East or the Big Ten. The game that we’re playing is pretty special. There’s a lot of good hockey players out there and we’re excited about where we’re at and where we’re going and the programs we’re going to be associated with down the road."
Given that, here are this past season's "new WCHA" mythical standings, based on overall record and winning percentage:

1. Minnesota State           24-14-3 (.622)*                 
2. Alaska                        17-16-4 (.514)                
3. Ferris State                 16-16-5 (.500)                 
4. Lake Superior              17-21-1 (.449)                 
5. Northern Michigan       15-19-4 (.447)               
6. Bowling Green            15-21-5 (.427)
7. Michigan Tech             13-20-4 (.405)*                 
8. Bemidji State               6-22-8 (.278)*                 
9. Alaska Anchorage         4-25-7 (.208)*                 
10. Alabama Huntsville     3-21-1 (.140)

* = Current WCHA members     

1 comment:

hockeyfan said...

Alaska will be tough and towards the top. This will be an extremly competitive race amongst the top six teams. With the progress made this year and knowing the staff will continue to bring in great talent ( made easier by the teams play this year) we should be in the top few teams. Can't wait to see!!!