It should come as no shock to anyone that follows this blog and college hockey fairly close that the Big Ten Hockey Conference is happening. Today it was announced that Men's Ice Hockey is going to be recommended to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors the establishment of Men's ice hockey as an official conference sport starting in the 2013-2014 season.
According to the release, the directors of athletics from all six schools that currently (or will shortly) sponsor Men's ice hockey voted unanimously for the creation of the conference. The release also states that the new conference will hold a conference tournament to determine the conferences auto bid for the NCAA tournament (format and location to be determined) and each school will play a 20 game conference schedule playing each team in the league twice at home and twice on the road.
Along with conference games against Michigan, Ohio State, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Penn State, Wisconsin will be allowed to schedule around fourteen non conference games every season and sometimes more depending on exceptions that the NCAA allows for certain tournaments, locations, and games.
One of the core complaints about the new conference is the loss of games against traditional WCHA rivals like North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, etc. The release notes that, "In addition, the Big Ten's men's ice hockey programs will continue to proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)."
As recently as last week WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod stated that "It has been having conversations with Minnesota and Wisconsin regarding an ongoing scheduling relationship between the schools and the rest of the WCHA."
Since the announcement less than an hour ago, no statements have been given from anyone in the Wisconsin camp but in a release from Minnesota, Gopher head coach Don Lucia mentioned the possibility of maintaining established rivalries, "Right now we enjoy playing in the WCHA and will work with the league and WCHA schools to maintain established and traditional rivalries to ensure a competitive and entertaining non-conference schedule."
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