Ferris State, LSSU, Mich. Tech and NMU on verge of leaving WCHA
Will the four Michigan schools in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association be in another conference three years from now?
Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan are among seven WCHA teams that are exploring the creation of a new conference, which would begin play with the 2021-22 season, it was announced.
They would be joined by Bowling Green, Bemidji State and Minnesota State.
That would leave Alaska, Alaska Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville as the only teams in the WCHA.
According to a press release from athletics and hockey consultant Dr. Morris Kurtz, the seven schools are “institutions rich in history and tradition with a strong commitment to academic and athletic excellence. They are like-minded in their goals and aspirations for the potential new league with a focus on improving regional alignment and the overall student-athlete experience while building natural rivalries within a more compact geographic footprint.”
(The almost certain non-spin translation is: The seven Midwest-based schools don’t want to continue to foot the bill towards, nor be inconvenienced by travel to the extreme Northwest or the Deep South.)
Each school also submitted a formal letter of notice to the WCHA office, beginning the withdrawal process in accordance with WCHA articles of incorporation and bylaws.
“The WCHA office received communication from several of our men’s league institutions that they intend to explore the creation of a new Division I men’s hockey conference that would begin play in 2021-22,” WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said in a statement. “The institutions have indicated they intend to compete in the WCHA during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
“While this news is disappointing, the WCHA will work to assure that any members that do withdraw do so in accordance with WCHA bylaws.”
FSU, LSSU, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan were also members of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Lumberjacks are tops in USHL
The Muskegon Lumberjacks were named the United States Hockey League’s Organization of the Year.
“The commitment by owners Dan Israel and Bob Kaiser, combined with fantastic leadership from Mike McCall and his staff, earned this award, and it is well deserved,” USHL commissioner Tom Garrity said in a press release.
The Lumberjacks set franchise and league records for wins and points this season and reached the conference finals under first-year coach Mike Hamilton, formerly one of the most successful AAA coaches in the Detroit area, in 2018-19.
Also, Muskegon’s home rink, L.C. Walker Arena, underwent extensive renovations, and the LumberJacks’ attendance was almost 20 percent higher than it ever was in previous seasons.