Thursday, July 10, 2014

WCHA releases schedule

The WCHA released its 2014-15 composite schedule on Thursday, and, although most of the teams, including Minnesota State, have put out their season schedules already, there are a few nuggets to highlight.

Most notably, the league's playoff format will remain the same as last season, despite a few rumblings that it might consider something that would put all 10 teams in the tournament.

Like last year, eight teams will play in the postseason, while the bottom two teams' seasons will end. Last year, Lake Superior State and Alabama Huntsville missed out, with the Lakers losing an eighth-place tiebreaker with Bemidji State and having their coach, Jim Roque, fired afterward.

After a best-of-three-games first round, the top four teams will advance the Final Five, which will return to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on March 20-21 after a year in Grand Rapids, Mich. (it's scheduled to go back to Grand Rapids in 2016). Prior to the Broadmoor Trophy championship game on Saturday, March 21, the Minnesota Wild will play a game against the St. Louis Blues (and MSU alum David Backes).

"The WCHA Final Five is our conference showcase," new commissioner Bill Robertson said in the press release, "and we will do everything in our power to make that special March 20-21 weekend event a preferred destination for fans of all ages."

Other items of note:

* The WCHA will again partner with America ONE Sports for live and on-demand streaming of games online, a broadcast service that seemed to work quite well for fans. "Our video streaming partnership with America ONE Sports brought notable dividends to the league and our member teams in year one," Robertson said.

* There will be a conference series right away opening weekend (Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 4-5) with Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State playing a series.

* Six times during the regular season all 10 league teams will be in action against each other. Those weekends are Nov. 21-22, Jan. 8-10, Jan. 16-17, Feb. 13-14, Feb. 27-28 and March 6-7. Nice that the scenario falls in three of the final four weeks of the season, including the last two.

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