The Big Ten and Pac 10 aren’t the only college athletic conferences adding new teams. In July of 2009, the men’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) admitted the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State University to the WCHA, and the two teams will begin league play in the upcoming 2010-11 season. Nebraska-Omaha formerly was a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, and Bemidji State had been a member of the College Hockey America league.
The addition of these two schools brings the total number in the league to 12. Bemidji State becomes the fifth Minnesota school to join the conference; the others are the University of Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State-Mankato, and St. Cloud State. The other member schools are Alaska-Anchorage, Denver University, Colorado College, Michigan Tech, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Both Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota State-Mankato are nicknamed the Mavericks, so we can look forward to confusion in play by play broadcasts of the Mavericks playing the Mavericks. The league already has the Michigan Tech Huskies playing the St. Cloud State Huskies.
This will be the last year for North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux team logo. The NCAA has mandated that schools with Native American logos, nicknames, and mascots must change them or else they will not be allowed to host NCAA events. Although the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe had actually been granted an injunction to prevent the Fighting Sioux logo from being dropped, the North Dakota Supreme Court lifted the injunction, and the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education then voted to retire the logo.
The league will continue to operate with one division. The teams will play a 28 game regular season conference schedule. Each team will play a home and home two game series against three other league teams. They will play a single two game series against the other eight league schools.
The WCHA’s league tournament will include all twelve schools. The first round will be a best of three series on March 11-13. The six schools that win the first round will advance to what will still be called the WCHA Final Five, even though there will now be six teams participating. The explanation is that “five” is now the number of games played instead of the number of teams involved. The Final Five will be held March 17-19 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The schools with the best regular season records will get byes in the first round of the Final Five, and the remaining four teams will play a quarterfinal round for the right to advance.
The men’s NCAA Hockey Tournament will open the following weekend, wrapping up with the NCAA Frozen Four on April 7-9 in St. Paul.
WCHA Admits Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State College Hockey News
Sioux Logo Retired by Board College Hockey News
University of Minnesota Announces Men’s 2010-2011 Hockey Schedule WCHA Press Release
Wisconsin Men’s Hockey Releases 2010-2011 Schedule WCHA Press Release