EDINA, Minn. – May 19, 2016 – The annual 140-game quest for the MacNaughton Cup, an exciting nonconference schedule that includes six in-season tournaments and the debut of the league's new, on-campus postseason format highlight the 2016-17 composite schedule for the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), as announced today by league President and Men's Commissioner Bill Robertson.
The announced composite schedule for the WCHA's 65th season of competition outlines game dates and opponents (both conference and nonconference) for each of the league's 10 member institutions. Game times, which will follow the :07 and :37 format for league games and nonconference home contests, will be finalized at a later date.
"On behalf of the WCHA and its member institutions, I am proud to announce the league's 2016-17 schedule," said Robertson. "The league cannot wait to get started on what promises to be a tremendous season, from opening night through the debut of our new, on-campus 'WCHA Playoffs' and 'WCHA Championship.' Already renowned for its wire-to-wire competitiveness, the WCHA regular season – from running down a top-four and top-two finish to the quest for the MacNaughton Cup – will only be enhanced with the home-ice stakes of our new postseason tournament. Of course, we are looking forward to bringing the thrill of playoff hockey directly to our fans, and we anticipate providing a unique and special experience for our student-athletes and programs.
"We are also excited for a top-notch nonconference schedule, including six prestigious tournaments and several marquee series. As we saw with Ferris State's run to a Regional Final this spring, WCHA schools should, can and will compete successfully on the national stage."
The full 2016-17 WCHA composite schedule can be found by clicking here.
WCHA member institutions have 71 games against nonconference opponents, while seven league schools will carry the conference banner into six in-season tournaments – include a trio hosted by WCHA institutions.
Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will host the Kendall Hockey Classic (Oct. 7-8 in Anchorage) and Brice Alaska Goal Rush (Oct. 14-15 in Fairbanks), respectively, while competing in both. Michigan Tech hosts the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit on Dec. 29-30. The holiday season will also see Alabama Huntsville in Minneapolis for the Mariucci Classic (Dec. 30-31), Ferris State traveling to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic (Dec. 29-30) and Northern Michigan venturing to Estero for the Florida College Hockey Classic (Dec. 28-29). Finally, Bemidji State will look to play in its third-consecutive North Star College Cup championship game when the Beavers return to the Xcel Energy Center the weekend of Jan. 27-29.
A full breakdown of nonconference opponents and tournaments, by institution:
- Alabama Huntsville – at Connecticut, at St. Cloud State, Mariucci Classic (opponents TBA)
- Alaska Anchorage – Kendall Hockey Classic (opponents TBA), Brice Alaska Goal Rush (vs. Omaha and vs. Canisius), at Penn State
- Alaska – Kendall Hockey Classic (opponents TBA), Brice Alaska Goal Rush (vs. Canisius and vs. Omaha), at Notre Dame
- Bemidji State – at North Dakota, Princeton, Minnesota Duluth (home-and-home), North Star College Cup (potential opponents are Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State)
- Bowling Green – Western Michigan (home-and-home), Ohio State (home-and-home), at Miami, RIT (single game, in Toledo), Mercyhurst (single game)
- Ferris State – Western Michigan (home-and-home), Michigan (single game), Michigan State (home-and-home), Three Rivers Classic (vs. Robert Morris, vs. either Boston College or Quinnipiac)
- Lake Superior State – Michigan State, at Michigan, at Omaha
- Michigan Tech – at Minnesota Duluth, at Michigan, at Michigan State, Great Lakes Invitational (Michigan, vs. either Michigan State or Western Michigan), at Notre Dame
- Minnesota State – St. Cloud State, Minnesota (home-and-home), at Princeton
- Northern Michigan – Wisconsin (two-game series in Green Bay, two game series at Madison), Omaha, Florida College Hockey Classic (potential opponents are Colorado College, Cornell and Merrimack)
The 140-game quest for the MacNaughton Cup begins with a single league series, Alabama Huntsville at Ferris State in the season-opening weekend, Oct. 1-2. With the 2017 WCHA postseason moving to a three-round, on-campus format, the final weekend of the regular season – featuring rivalry series for each school – was moved up to Feb. 24-25.
All 21 regular season weekends, including the Dec. 30-Jan. 1 holiday weekend, feature at least one WCHA matchup. There are only four weekends with a full slate of five WCHA series: Dec. 3-4, Dec. 9-10, Jan. 20-21 and when the regular season concludes Feb. 24-25.
Each member institution will play a total of 28 WCHA games (14 at home and 14 on the road). Teams play five other league members four times each and four others two times each.
Among the highlights:
- Defending MacNaughton Cup co-champions Michigan Tech and Minnesota State meet in the season's second week (Oct. 7-8) in Mankato, before a two-game set in Houghton on Jan. 27-28.
- Ferris State, which knocked off the regular season co-champs at the 2016 Final Five en route to winning the Broadmoor Trophy, faces the Mavericks twice (Oct. 28-29 in Mankato and Dec. 9-10 in Big Rapids) and the Huskies once (Feb. 10-11 in Houghton).
- Alaska Anchorage and Alaska will play in the annual Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup, facing off Dec. 9-10 in Fairbanks before wrapping up the regular season Feb. 24-25 in Anchorage.
- The Cappo Cup, awarded each year to either Lake Superior State or Northern Michigan, will be decided in back-to-back weekends, as the Lakers and Wildcats skate in a pair of home-and-home sets Jan. 6-7 and Jan. 13-14).
- Longtime rivals from their Division II and College Hockey America days, Alabama Huntsville and Bemidji State will renew acquaintances Feb. 10-11 in Bemidji.
- Bowling Green and Ferris State, two schools that each participated in the three Final Five tournaments since 2014, meet Nov. 14-15 in Ohio and Jan. 27-28 in Michigan.
- The Michigan Tech-Northern Michigan series again features a pair of home-and-home sets, with the first coming Oct. 28-29 and the second on the regular season's final weekend (Feb. 24-25).
- Minnesota intrastate rivals Bemidji State and Minnesota State face off Nov. 11-12 in Mankato and to wrap up the regular season Feb. 24-25 in Bemidji.
- 2016 WCHA quarterfinal round rematches occur between Michigan Tech and Alaska (Nov. 25-26 at MTU), Minnesota State and Lake Superior State (Nov. 4-5 at LSSU and Jan. 27-28 at MSU), Bowling Green and Bemidji State (Oct. 7-8 at BSU and Jan. 5-6 at BGSU), and Ferris State and Northern Michigan (Oct. 21-22 at FSU).
2017 WCHA Postseason
Bringing the singular intensity and passion of playoff college hockey directly to its member institution fans, the entirety of the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) postseason – from the quarterfinals through the championship game – will be hosted by the highest remaining seeds at on-campus venues, beginning immediately with the 2016-17 season.
The 2017 "WCHA Playoffs" will consist of four (4) best-of-three, quarterfinal round series hosted by the league's top four regular-season finishers on the first weekend of March, followed by two (2) best-of-three semifinal round series hosted by the highest remaining seeds on the second weekend of the month. The 2017 "WCHA Championship" will be a single game, hosted by the highest remaining seed, on the third Saturday of March (the same weekend as the "Final Five" of previous seasons). As has been the case since the 2013-14 campaign, the top eight teams from the WCHA regular season will qualify for the postseason.