Hola. So, as you might have heard, the WCHA is set to make a “major business announcement” at 1:05 p.m. today. The email announcing the announcement was super-vauge and didn’t give any information tipping its hand, but some have reported that it will be in relation to a new WCHA playoff structure. (If this new playoff structure includes Arizona State is still up for debate.) Stay tuned for more of that here.
Well, that was certainly interesting.
The WCHA today announced that it was getting rid of the Final Five entirely and moving the tournament completely to campus sites, effective immediately for the 2016-17 season.
There will be a best-of-3 quarterfinal round on campus, like normal, but the semifinals will also be best-of-3 and will be on campus the next week. The championship will be a single game at the home of the highest remaining seed.
I’ll have more in the paper and online shortly, but I think this is a good move for the league. Final Five attendance had been decent but just not what the league wanted. This will increase excitement and make the regular season that much more meaningful.
Anyway, check back later.
In the meantime, a few BSU-related links:
-Former Bemidji State women’s hockey player Molly Arola was just named the new head girls hockey coach at Alexandria High School. Arola was a four-year player for the Beavers from 2009-2013. She’s from Walker but played high school hockey at Grand Rapids/Greenway; she’s currently a teacher Discovery Middle School in Alexandria. Arola joins another former Beavers in the high school coaching ranks: Allie Duellman is the coach at Henry Sibley. Jackie (Robertson) Stoeffel was also, until last season, the head coach at Bemidji High but stepped down after she had a child this summer.
-Another interesting story here about former Beaver men’s goalie Matt Dalton. With the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, he’s taken a circuitous path to make it there: He became a South Koran citizen so he can play for the Korean team in two years. He’s originally from Ontario but has been playing in the pro league in Korea for a few years and likes it enough to want to stick around. He’ll likely be the No. 1 goaltender for the Koreans as they make their Olympic hockey debut. And as BSU hockey fans know, Dalton is capable of backstopping an underdog to the promised land.
-Lastly: A good read from my buddy Shane Frederick at the Mankato Free Press about how the league took a step back this season in terms of national perception/recognition. Essentially, he argues that teams played well enough to win in the conference but no more, and it’s hurt the league’s credibility. It’s also hurt their out of conference success — hence why Ferris State, not MSU or Tech or BGSU — was the league’s lone NCAA representative. I basically agree with him on all of these points. Hopefully, as he also argues, 2016 was not a trend but an aberration.