Bowling Green Accepts WCHA Invite
CHN Staff Report
Facing an October 7 deadline, Bowling Green has decided to accept an invitation to join the WCHA in 2013-14.
This, along with Notre Dame's pending decision to join Hockey East, means that all outstanding teams have a conference when 2013-14 rolls around — the year everything changes. The only team without a conference will remain Alabama-Huntsville, but it doesn't appear to have options at this point.
In the wake of numerous changes that dismantled the CCHA and WCHA as we know it, Bowling Green and other CCHA remnants were offered, in August, entry into the WCHA. Ferris State, Alaska and Lake Superior State — and Nortern Michigan earlier in the summer — accepted those invitations. Western Michigan was invited but decided to accept an invitation to the NCHC instead.
According to sources, Bowling Green was delaying the decision while trying to work out a possible new conference — or re-formulated CCHA — that included four Atlantic Hockey schools, Niagara, Robert Morris, Merchyhurst and Canisius, and possibly a startup program like University at Buffalo as a sixth.
But, whether the timeline was too tight to make that happen, or the overall idea was considered not feasible, Bowling Green decided to finally accept the wCHA's invitation.
The new-look WCHA will include, in 2013-14, the aforementioned CCHA schools, plus Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, and Minnesota State.
“The WCHA is a great fit for BGSU,” Bowling green athletic director Greg Christopher said. “WCHA teams are committed to the highest level of college hockey and competing for championships, just as we are at Bowling Green.”
Bowling Green has played in the CCHA since its creation in 1971, and is the only founding institution to never leave the
conference. The Falcons have also yielded two Hobey Baker Award winners (George McPhee and Brian Holzinger) as members of the CCHA.
“We’re building our program to compete for championships,” coach Chris Bergeron said. “I’m excited about the
direction our program is headed and the league we are moving towards because of the opportunities it provides for us to continue to develop BGSU hockey.”
The shift in the hockey landscape started in March when the Big Ten announced that it would form a new conference for the 2013-14 season. Along with Minnesota, Wisconsin, and newly formed Penn State, the new conference will include current CCHA members Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
The creation of a second conference in July marked even more change for the CCHA, as reigning tournament champion Miami announced it would depart for the newly formed NCHC in 2013. The rest of the conference will be made up of former WCHA schools including North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, Colorado College, St. Cloud State, and Nebraska-Omaha.
“We are committed to two more years in the CCHA,” Christopher said. “As one of the founding institutions of the league, Bowling Green hockey and the CCHA have been synonymous with each other. We will continue to build this program over the next two years to reach our goals when we begin play in the WCHA.”