Good Bye CCHA
It is with great sadness that we are saying good bye to the CCHA, it is amazing to me how quickly one of the preeminent conferences in college hockey has fallen. The Lakers joined the CCHA in 1972, its second year of existence, and dominated the league in the late 80’s and early 90’s, being the regular season championship in 1974, 1988, 1991, and 1996, and the CCHA tournament in 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1995, but the change was inevitable once the National Collegiate Hockey Conference formed and the WCHA poached Northern Michigan out of the CCHA. It appeared that the CCHA, without the Big Ten teams wasn’t desirable to Notre Dame, and for some reason Western Michigan seems to lead by the bit by the Irish. So with only 4 teams committed to the CCHA for the 2013-14 season it was obvious that the Lakers needed to find a new home.
I have to commend the leadership at LSSU to stepping up and doing what was best for the school and the program. Joining in a league with Bemidji, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State, Northern Michigan, and Michigan Tech maintains the regional strength that the Lakers enjoyed in the CCHA. Travel to Alaska will remain difficult, with it looking like the Alaska trip will become an annual expedition, unless it can be somehow worked out that teams will play in both Fairbanks and Anchorage over the course of a long weekend, but the 6 plus hour drive between the two cities may prevent this from happening.
“Without fully knowing the final outcome, if everything realigns as we have it on paper today, I think this will be a better conference for Lake Superior State Hockey long-term than the CCHA was, and I thought the CCHA was pretty good,” said McLain.
The move to the WCHA is will increase the Lakers chances to regaining National prominence, although the Lakers are moving from arguably one of the top conferences in College hockey to a conference that nobody will argue is better than 4th among all conferences in NCAA hockey. Look for the Lakers to contend immediately in the new WCHA, and to reappear in the NCAA tournament, and anything can happen with a single elimination tournament, as we saw Bemidji State advance to the Frozen Four in 2009.