Rather than having the two Alaska schools face in the first round, the 10 member WCHA will have a postseason tournament similar to the current Hockey East setup with the "WCHA Final Four" alternating between the Xcel Energy Center and Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids
Eight months after the WCHA decided on their postseason plan following college hockey realignment in 2013-2014, the conference has once again shifted plans according to a report by Shane Frederick of the Mankato Free Press.
Sources say athletic directors from the 10-team WCHA voted to approve an eight-team tournament with the bottom two teams in the regular-season standings missing out on postseason play. The top four teams would host the next four in best-of-three first-round series with the winners advancing to a single-elimination championship weekend. The championship site likely will rotate between Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (2014, 2016), and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul (2015, 2017).
The Xcel Energy Center will also host the Big Ten conference championship in 2014 and 2016 while the newly founded National Collegiate Hockey Conference will have its tournament at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.
Other changes include getting rid of the so-called "Alaska Plan" that would have seen the two Alaska schools (Alaska-Anchorage and Fairbanks) face each other in the first round unless one team won the league. The rule, which was created for financial reasons, had its critics including Alaska-Anchorage athletic director Steve Cobb.
Now the two schools will travel if the need arises.
These changes come after the WCHA recently added Alabama-Huntsville as its tenth member. They join WCHA holdovers Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State in addition to CCHA schools Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan are joining them from the CCHA.
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