CCHA's Final Championship Game Moved to Sunday
Has Ramifications For NCAA Selections
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
The final season of the CCHA will be a unique one in more ways than one.
The CCHA Tournament, played each year at Joe Louis Arena, will move to Saturday-Sunday instead of the usual Friday-Saturday. This raises issues with the NCAA Tournament selection process, and forced the league to have discussions with the NCAA and ESPN (which airs the Selection Show) to get it approved.
The change was forced because of a scheduling "oversight" at Joe Louis Arena. The Detroit Red Wings — assuming there's ever an NHL season — were scheduled for a home game on Friday, March 23. The arena tried to get the Red Wings' game moved, but it was too difficult given the dynamics of the NHL schedule.
"To move one team, it impacts so many other teams and scenarios," CCHA commissioner Fred Pletsch said.
So the league talked to the NCAA about getting its games moved up a day.
Consequently, the NCAA Tournament selections are unable to be announced until after the CCHA championship game is over.
"We worked with (NCAA Dir. of Championships) Kristin Fasbender and the (Men's Ice Hockey) Committee, and the committee worked with ESPN and recognized it was a one-time only situation," Pletsch said. "We were in a tough situation. We're really fortunate that they were able to do what they did for us."
Atlantic Hockey briefly held a championship game on a Sunday, but in that case, it was all but certain that only the champion would make the NCAA Tournament, and make it as the lowest seed. In the case of the CCHA, one game can have numerous ramifications on selection, seeding and placement in the NCAA Tournament, and so the selections cannot be made until after the game is over.
As a result, all eyes will be on that CCHA Tournament final.
"That's a spin off benefit, but we didn't plan it that way at all," Pletsch said. "But it's the 42nd and final year of the conference, and it's tough to argue that the conference hasn't been a major player on the D-I scene, so it will be nice that the CCHA's final game ever will be in the spotlight."
ESPN will move the Selection Show to 9 p.m. instead of the usual late morning time slot.
In addition, the third-place game was eliminated.