GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has announced its men's playoff championship, known as the WCHA Final Five, will be played at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.
The dates of the 2014 WCHA Final Five at Van Andel Arena are set for March 21-22 (Friday/Saturday).
The tournament will return to Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., for the 2014-15 and 2016-17 campaigns. The dates for the 2015 WCHA Playoff Championship are set for March 20-21 (Friday/Saturday).
The men's WCHA will sport a 10-team league next season, with membership consisting of University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University.
"We just couldn't be more pleased to be able to host the best conference postseason hockey tournament in the country in two of the premier facilities in the Midwest," said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod. "We are tremendously excited to bring WCHA championship hockey and the quest for the Broadmoor Trophy to Grand Rapids, as well as continue our long-standing tradition and success of playing in Saint Paul.
"Both Grand Rapids and St. Paul are wonderful travel destinations for fans, featuring first-class arenas centered in exciting downtown areas with noteworthy tourist attractions, great shopping, and fine hotels and restaurants. In Grand Rapids, we have the proximity of our Michigan-based WCHA teams, and in Saint Paul of our Minnesota-based schools. This is truly the best of both worlds for us."
"The City of Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Sports Commission and Van Andel Arena all look forward to hosting the WCHA in 2014," said Richard MacKeigan, regional general manager of Van Andel Arena. "Hockey in general, and college hockey specifically, is a passion for West Michigan, and we look forward to working with the WCHA to share that passion with the players, coaches and fans. We know your experience will be a great one in Grand Rapids, March of 2014!"
"We are pleased to once again partner with the WCHA on their championship tournament," said Xcel Energy Center Vice President and General Manager Jack Larson. "We have a long-standing tremendously successful relationship with them, and we are committed to building on this foundation for years to come."
Along with the announcement of future championship sites, the league also unveiled both a new postseason playoff format for the upcoming 2013-14 season that will feature the top eight teams in the final regular season standings engaging in first-round, best-of-three playoff series at the home site of the top four finishers, followed by the four first-round winners advancing to the WCHA Playoff Championship the following weekend, which would consist of two semifinal games on the first day of the event followed by the Broadmoor Trophy title contest on day two.
The WCHA tournament will follow the league's 140-game conference slate that will have each of the 10 teams playing 28 games, 14 at home and 14 away, with the regular season champion being awarded college hockey's most renowned and valuable trophy -- the MacNaughton Cup. Each team will play five other league members four times each and four others two times each. The WCHA has had a 28-games per team conference schedule in place since 1997-98.
"We are looking forward to a tremendous season in 2013-14 and all the excitement and interest that the new-look WCHA will generate," said McLeod. "This new postseason tournament format will make for an ultra-competitive regular season race among the 10 teams, followed by our traditional first-round, best-of-three playoff series and then the ultimate reward of playing for the Broadmoor Trophy and an automatic berth into the national tournament in two of the premier hockey venues in the country. We are all enthused and we are ready and rarin' to go."
The WCHA Final Five will alternate between those two Midwestern venues, with the newly-formed Big Ten Conference playing its postseason event at Xcel Energy Center every other year beginning in 2014. Xcel Energy Center has been home to the WCHA Final Five since 2001, and the WCHA has held a men's postseason tournament annually since 1959-60, although in a number of different formats.
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