If you saw my story in the Pioneer today, you’ll know that the WCHA is holding its annual meetings in Detroit this week.
BSU head coach Tom Serratore wasn’t able to tell me much when we chatted very quickly yesterday, but I’ve been able to cull a little bit of info from other news sources about what exactly the league plans to do about the postseason situation.
Matt Wellens of the Marquette (Mich.) Mining Journal (the home of Northern Michigan, for those of you not up on your Upper Peninsula geography) speculated two weeks ago that the WCHA may be wise to hold the tourney in Duluth despite the departure of Minnesota-Duluth from the league.
Yesterday he was able to get WCHA commish Bruce McLeod on the phone and ask him a few questions directly. McLeod said that the league had a strong interest in holding the tournament in Green Bay but the Wisconsin High School Association recently inked a deal to play the girls basketball championships at the Resch Center, leaving the WCHA out of the running.
McLeod did say, however, that the league had its eyes on some other sites and were close to making a deal. They couldn’t announce any specifics yet, so I assume we’ll know more when the meetings end.
The Mankato Free Press’ Shane Frederick also wrote about the issue, both in print and on his blog.
As Frederick said, there’s definitely no ideal location for the tournament at this point.
I’d argue that the league might be able to find a haven in a neutral site that is within the league’s footprint. Not an NHL arena like Xcel or the Joe, but rather a smaller minor league arena that may be able to realistically sell out.
I know most folks don’t want to go to Duluth considering the fact that the Bulldogs bailed on the league, but AMSOIL is a perfect location and size.
I’d also add a few more suggestions to the hat. Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a good rink of a decent size but not too big. BSU played their regional there in 2009 en route to the Frozen Four, so I’ve got to think there’s some good mojo associated with the place for Beaver fans at least.
That’s one I’ve seen mentioned before (it might have been on a CCHA message board, but I think it makes sense regardless). It could work, considering the influx of Michigan schools in the league.
Another option (and also another former BSU regional location) may be Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. Obviously, there are no WCHA members in Indiana. But it’s a decent location and also pretty central for all the schools in the league.
Soon-to-be WCHA member Bowling Green is also hosting a regional in Toledo, Ohio, this year. If that goes well the WCHA may be wise to consider Toledo as a possible location.
Obviously, the ideal would be to keep the WCHA tournament in Minnesota, where is probably belongs. But I just don’t see how that happens unless the league just institutes alternating campus locations.
Since I’m still new to the beat, I’ll pose the same question to Beaver fans that Frederick posted on his blog: What do you think? Should the WCHA try and share with the Big Ten? Should they go to Duluth? Should they play in Toledo? Should they play on campus? I’m interested to hear what fans have to think on this one.
(A few articles I’ve seen on the WCHA meetings have also addressed the Alabama-Huntsville issue. College Hockey News was one, and the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune was the other. However, the Chargers have not officially applied for membership so it’s unknown just how much the WCHA representatives are talking about UAH this week.)