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Bemidji and the WCHA

This isn't exactly ground-breaking news, but the Bemidji Press wrote an article saying Bemidji State will be forced to drop hockey if they aren't accepted into the WCHA by May 2008.

The CHA won't be around much longer, and if those teams can't find a conference, they will all likely be forced to disband. Hopefully the WCHA finds a way to allow Bemidji into the conference. They're a strong program, that is centrally located within the conference, and have proven on numerous occasions that they can compete with other WCHA programs. It would be a shame to let a team like that just fade away. It would also take away 18 scholarships from potential college hockey players(Yes, they currently give out less, but I'm guessing a full allotment would be a condition on joining the league). Compared to the alternative of maintaining the integrity of an artificially created 10 team cap, it seems like a no-brainer to let the Beavers into the league.

For what it's worth, it sounds like the WCHA will probably be open to helping out Bemidji. WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod was on Fox Sports North last weekend, and mentioned that there at least basic discussions going on about whether or not the WCHA would want to expand to 11 or 12 teams, if they expanded. It's a small step in the right direction, given that the WCHA's party line for a long time has been "we're not at all interested in expanding past 10 teams".

The talk about 12 teams is interesting, because as of right now, there doesn't seem to be a potential 12th team anywhere on the horizon. The WCHA could absorb a western CCHA team like UNO, or there's even the outside possibility of the University of British Columbia being allowed into the NCAA and joining the WCHA.

Air Force is a geographical fit, but I don't seem them fitting into the WCHA. First, AFA is interested in playing in a conference with Army. Second, travel costs aren't as big a concern for them since flying in cheaper for them. Third, I don't see a service academy being able to compete in a league where every other team is drawing future NHL talent.

Hopefully the WCHA can get something worked out this summer. May 2008 may seem like a long time, but that is only 15 months to come up with a solution.