July 26, 2012
(L to R): North Dakota seniors Brad Eidsness, Ben Blood and Mario Lamoureux with the Broadmoor Trophy. UND won a third consecutive WCHA Final Five in 2012.
MADISON, Wis. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, marking it's 61st season of on-ice competition and owning a record 37 NCAA Men's Frozen Four titles since it's founding in 1951, today (July 26) released it's men's composite schedule for 2012-13, highlighted by the return of one of college hockey's most successful post-season tournaments – the Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five – to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul next March 21-23.
In addition, the Association welcomes Mike Hastings as the new head coach at Minnesota State, Michigan Tech will host the annual Great Lakes Invitational outdoors at Comerica Park (home of MLB's Detroit Tigers) Dec. 27-28 and there are two more outdoor games in the month of February as Nebraska Omaha entertains North Dakota at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Saturday the 9th and Minnesota and Wisconsin hook-up in the Hockey City Classic at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday the 17th. The league's 168-game conference schedule launches the weekend of Oct. 19-20 as defending MacNaughton Cup champion Minnesota travels to Michigan Tech, North Dakota has a shot at becoming the first team to ever win four consecutive WCHA Final Five crowns, the four NCAA regional tournaments will be contested in Grand Rapids, Toledo, Manchester and Providence the weekend of March 29-31, and the 2013 NCAA Men's Frozen Four will be played at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh April 11-13.
"We are thrilled about what promises to be a tremendously exciting season in 2012-13," said Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod, who marks his 19th year at the helm of college hockey's most historic and successful league. "Our final campaign together in our current make-up should be one of the best ever. Across the board our teams look improved, there is some great talent back, and there are plenty of highlights throughout the season that will command attention, from the Ice Breaker in Kansas City and the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage in October, to the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park in Detroit in December, to the two outdoor WCHA games in Omaha and Chicago in February and on to the Red Baron WCHA Final Five in March and the NCAA Men's Frozen Four in Pittsburgh in April. We had four teams earn national tournament berths a season ago, with Minnesota advancing to the Frozen Four, four teams wind up in the nation's top 10 at the end of the season, we were 51-33-8 in non-conference play, Jack Connolly (Minnesota Duluth) won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, Denver's Joey LaLeggia was the national rookie of the year, we had seven players earn All-American honors and we had a record 110 men's and women's student-athletes named as WCHA Scholar-Athletes and a record 150 men's players earn All-WCHA Academic Team honors.
"We also want to extend another special welcome to Mike Hastings as the new head coach of the Minnesota State Mavericks," said McLeod, "and acknowledge the many contributions that Troy Jutting made to both MSU and the league over his long tenure there."
Under the leadership of Commissioner McLeod, who has over the past 19 seasons fashioned a thriving partnership between the WCHA, Xcel Energy Center and the NHL's Minnesota Wild, the annual Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five has developed into one of college hockey's most prosperous conference tournaments.
Last season's Final Five drew a total attendance 73,002 – best at the playoff championship since 2009 and eighth highest in the 20-year history of the Final Five – and an average per game crowd of 14,600.
The 2013 edition of the Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five will mark the event's 13th consecutive year at Xcel Energy Center, where the playoff championship has drawn 923,566 fans in 12 previous appearances and an average crowd in excess of 15,500 per game.
"As an Association, we have been tremendously fortunate," said McLeod. "This on-going success has not happened by accident but rather by a lot of hard work and diligence over the past two decades. The Final Five has been a labor of love for the staffs of the WCHA, Xcel Energy Center and the Minnesota Wild and together we look forward to making the 2013 Red Baron WCHA Final Five the best yet.
"I also want to acknowlege the great support we have received from Xcel Energy Center Vice-President and General Manager Jack Larson, Minnesota Wild Owner and Governor Craig Leipold, and former Minnesota Wild Owner Bob Naegele, Jr., who was a key player in the Final Five from day one. Another essential part of our continuing success in marketing the Final Five has been our exclusive television partnership with FOX Sports North and our many corporate sponsors. We want to sincerely thank Mike Dimond (Senior Vice President and General Manager for FOX Sports North) and his entire staff and to also thank Red Baron® as our on-going title sponsor."
The first on-ice competition for 2012-13 will consist of a series of exhibition contests between Oct. 6-8 for Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Colorado College, Denver, Michigan Tech, Minnesota, Minnesota State, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota.
The first regular season action, all non-conference match ups, will occur Oct. 11-13. Michigan Tech travels to CCHA-member Lake Superior State on Thursday and then hosts the Lakers on Saturday, Alaska Anchorage hosts Air Force, Alaska Fairbanks and Canisius in the Kendall Hockey Classic, St. Cloud State visits New Hampshire, Minnesota State plays at Alabama-Huntsville, Nebraska Omaha hosts the Ice Breaker Tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City with Army, Maine and Notre Dame, Colorado College entertains Clarkson, Wisconsin takes on Northern Michigan at Resch Center in Green Bay, Minnesota welcomes Michigan State, and Minnesota Duluth entertains Ohio State In exhibition play, North Dakota engages the U.S. Under-18 Team in a single game in Grand Forks on the 12th while Bemidji State hosts the U.S. Under-18 Team on Saturday the 13th.
Competition for the 2012-13 WCHA regular season championship and MacNaughton Cup, a 168-game campaign which consists of 28 league games for each of the league's 12 member teams, commences Oct. 19-20 with one two-game series featuring defending league champ Minnesota visiting Michigan Tech. Other WCHA series openers, by member team, are: Alaska Anchorage (Oct. 26-27 at North Dakota), Bemidji State (Oct. 26-27 at Nebraska Omaha), Colorado College (Nov. 2-3 at Wisconsin), Denver (Oct. 26-27 vs Michigan Tech), Minnesota Duluth (Oct. 26-27 vs Wisconsin), Minnesota State (Oct. 26-27 at St. Cloud State), Nebraska Omaha (Oct. 26-27 vs Bemidji State), North Dakota (Oct. 26-27 vs Alaska Anchorage), St. Cloud State (Oct. 26-27 vs Minnesota State), and Wisconsin (Oct. 26-27 at Minnesota Duluth).
During the course of the 168-game league slate, there are four weekends that will feature all 12 teams engaged in league play – Nov. 30-Dec. 1 (six series), Dec. 7-8 (six series), Feb. 8-9 (six series), and March 8-10 (six series).
WCHA teams will also be hosting or playing in a number of regular season tournaments this season. Alaska Anchorage will host the Kendall Hockey Classic at Sullivan Arena Oct. 12-13 and play in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks Oct. 19-20, Bemidji State plays in the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H., Dec. 30-31, Michigan Tech hosts the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park in Detroit Dec. 27-28, Minnesota hosts the Mariucci Classic on Dec. 29-30, Minnesota Duluth travels to the Florida College Hockey Classic in Estero Dec. 28-29, Minnesota State skates in the UCONN Hockey Classic in Storrs on Dec. 29-30, Nebraska Omaha hosts the Ice Breaker Tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City Oct. 12-13, and North Dakota plays in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush Oct. 19-20.
Other non-tournament, non-conference match ups by team are: Alaska Anchorage (March 1-2 home-and-home with Alaska Fairbanks for the Alaska Airlines Governor's Cup); Bemidji State (Oct. 19-20 vs Lake Superior State, Jan. 4-5 vs Western Michigan); Colorado College (Oct. 12-13 vs Clarkson, Oct. 19 at Air Force, Oct. 20 vs UMass-Lowell, Oct. 23 vs New Hampshire, Oct. 24 vs Yale); Denver (Oct. 19 vs UMass-Lowell, Oct. 20 vs Air Force, Oct. 23 vs Yale, Oct. 24 vs New Hampshire, Dec. 29 vs Boston University in U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game, Jan. 4-5 vs Cornell); Michigan Tech (Oct. 11 at Lake Superior State, Oct. 13 vs Lake Superior State, Dec. 4 at Northern Michigan, Feb. 12 vs Northern Michigan); Minnesota (Oct. 12-13 vs Michigan State, Oct. 28 vs Canisius, Nov. 23-24 at Vermont, Jan. 5 vs Notre Dame); Minnesota Duluth (Oct. 12-13 vs Ohio State, Oct. 18-19 at Notre Dame, March 1-2 vs Alabama-Huntsville); Minnesota State (Oct. 12-13 at Alabama-Huntsville, Oct. 19-20 vs Rensselaer, Jan. 4-5 vs Providence College); Nebraska Omaha (Oct. 19-20 vs Northern Michigan, Nov. 23-24 vs Alabama-Huntsville, Dec. 29-30 at Quinnipiac); North Dakota (Nov. 2-3 vs Boston University, Nov. 23-24 at Notre Dame, Jan. 4-5 vs Holy Cross); St. Cloud State (Oct. 12-13 at New Hampshire, Oct. 19-20 vs Alabama-Huntsville, Dec. 27-28 vs Rensselaer, Jan. 4-5 vs Northern Michigan); and Wisconsin (Oct. 12-13 vs Northern Michigan at Green Bay, Dec. 13-14 vs Alabama-Huntsville, Jan. 18-19 vs Miami, Feb. 24-25 vs Penn State).
The quest for the WCHA Playoff Championship and the Broadmoor Trophy gets underway the weekend of March 15-17 with six first round, best-of-three series. Those pairings will have the #1 seed hosting the #12 seed, #2 hosting #11, #3 hosting #10, #9 at #4, #8 at #5, and the #7 seed at the #6 seed.
The six-round playoff winners will then be re-seeded (according to their regular season finish) and advance to the 2013 Red Baron™ WCHA Final Five, set for March 21-23 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. North Dakota is a three-time defending Broadmoor Trophy champion. There will be two Final Five games contested on Thursday at 2:07 pm CT and 7:07 pm CT as the No. 5 seed will play the No. 4 seed and the and No. 6 seed will play the No. 3 seed. The No. 1 and No. 2 Final Five seeds will receive byes on Thursday. On Friday, there will be two semi-final match ups at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm CT, followed by the Broadmoor Trophy championship game on Saturday at 7:07 pm CT.
In 2010, the WCHA unveiled an all-new Broadmoor Trophy at the Final Five. The bronze cast trophy, created by Blue Ribbon Trophies & Awards of Colorado Springs, Colo., is a recreation of the famous Broadmoor Hotel, host to numerous past national championships and the former home of Colorado College hockey. There are a total of three Broadmoor Trophies. The largest is on display at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, one is a traveling trophy, and one is given to the winning team each year as a permanent addition to their display case.
The four NCAA Men's Division 1 Regionals will be contested the weekend of March 29-31. On Friday and Saturday, the NCAA Northeast Regional will be played at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. and the NCAA West Regional will be contested at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. On Saturday and Sunday, the NCAA East Regional will be played at Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. while the NCAA Midwest Regional will be held at Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.
The four regional winners will then advance to the 2013 NCAA Men's Frozen Four, which is set for April 11-13 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.