MADISON, Wis. - The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, marking it's 58th season of on-ice competition in 2009-10 and owning a record 36 NCAA Men's Frozen Four titles since it's founding in 1951, today (July 10) released it's men's composite schedule, highlighted by the appearance of the 2010 Red BaronTM WCHA Final Five at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., next March 18-20.
Under the leadership of Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod, who has built a thriving partnership between the WCHA, Xcel Energy Center and the NHL's Minnesota Wild, the annual WCHA Final Five has developed into college hockey's most prosperous conference tournament. 2010 will mark the 10th consecutive season the WCHA Final Five has appeared at Xcel Energy Center, where the event has drawn 721,258 fans in nine previous appearances - an average of 80,140 per tournament and an average crowd of 16,028 per game.
"We (WCHA) are tremendously fortunate to have such a special relationship with Xcel Energy Center and Vice-President and General Manager Jack Larson and his entire staff and with the Minnesota Wild and previous Owner Bob Naegele, Jr., current Owner and Governor Craig Leipold, and Vice-President for Communications and Broadcasting Bill Robertson and their staffs" said McLeod. "It has been an on-going labor of love for everyone involved in the league office, Xcel Energy Center and the Minnesota Wild and we all look forward to both continuing and building on this partnership in the future.
"The WCHA would also like to acknowledge and thank Mike Diamond and Fox Sports North as our exclusive Final Five television partner and to Red Baron® as our title sponsor."
The 2009-10 campaign will be a historic one of sorts for the WCHA, as it will mark the final season of the Association as a 10 member-team league. On June 26, the WCHA membership voted to admit both Bemidji State University and the University of Nebraska Omaha into the Association family beginning with the 2010-11 season, then giving the league 12 member teams.
The initial on-ice action of 2009-10, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 2-4, will consist of a series of exhibition contests involving nine of the league's 10 teams against Canadian-based opponents.
The first regular season action, all non-conference matchups, will occur Oct. 9-11, highlighted by the University of Denver's 60th Anniversary Season celebration weekend against visiting Hockey East Association-foe Vermont, the University of Alaska Anchorage hosting Alaska Fairbanks, Mercyhurst and Michigan in the Kendall Hockey Classic, and Michigan Tech University and the University of Minnesota Duluth hosting Central Collegiate Hockey Association-members Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State in Superior Cup competition. Also seeing action Oct. 9-10 will be Colorado College at home against HEA-member Northeastern, Minnesota State University, Mankato at home against CCHA-member Bowling Green, the University of North Dakota at home against Merrimack of Hockey East, and St. Cloud State University on the road at 2009 NCAA Frozen Four runner-up and CCHA-member Miami.
The race for the 2010 WCHA regular season championship, a 140-game campaign which consists of 28 league games per team, will get underway the weekend of Oct. 16-17 as defending MacNaughton Cup champion North Dakota entertains the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin hosts Colorado College, and Minnesota Duluth hosts Minnesota State. Other WCHA series openers, by team, are: Alaska Anchorage - Oct. 23-24 vs North Dakota; Denver - Oct. 23-24 vs Minnesota; Michigan Tech - Oct. 23-24 at Colorado College; and St. Cloud State - Oct. 23-24 vs Minnesota Duluth.
There will be a total of five weekends during the regular season that will feature all ten WCHA-member teams engaged in league competition, with those being Oct. 23-24, Dec. 4-5, Jan. 29-30, Feb. 19-20 and March 5-7.
Other non-conference action during the first half consists of Denver playing at Ohio State of the CCHA on Oct. 16-17, St. Cloud State hosting Union College of ECAC Hockey on Oct. 16-17, Minnesota Duluth hosting Clarkson of ECAC Hockey and Wisconsin entertaining New Hampshire of Hockey East on Oct. 30-31, Minnesota hosting Bemidji State of College Hockey America on Nov. 14-15, Colorado College entertaining College Hockey America's Robert Morris on Nov. 20-21, Minnesota and Wisconsin both playing at CCHA-members Michigan and Michigan State on Nov. 27-28 in the College Hockey Showcase, Minnesota State traveling to Bemidji State on Dec. 11-12, Michigan Tech playing at Northern Michigan (CCHA) on Dec. 18 and Minnesota State playing a home-and-home set with Nebraska-Omaha (CCHA) on Dec. 18-19.
Over the course of the 2009-10 regular season, WCHA-member teams will also be hosting or playing in a number of tournaments. In addition to hosting the Kendall Hockey Classic on Oct. 9-10, Alaska Anchorage will play in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush Tournament in Fairbanks on Oct. 16-17 (with Alaska Fairbanks, Rensselaer and Robert Morris); Colorado College will play in the Florida College Hockey Classic at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla., on Dec. 29-30 (with Cornell, Maine and Princeton); Denver will host the Wells Fargo Denver Cup at Magness Arena on Jan. 1-2 (with Boston College, Nebraska Omaha and St. Lawrence); Michigan Tech will host the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Dec. 29-30 (with Michigan, Michigan State and Rensselaer); Minnesota will host the Dodge Holiday Classic at Mariucci Arena on Jan. 2-3 (with Bowling Green, Clarkson and Northern Michigan); Minnesota Duluth will play in the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt. on Jan. 2-3 (with host Vermont and Mercyhurst); North Dakota will host the Subway Holiday Classic at Ralph Engelstad Arena on Nov. 27-28 (with Bemidji State, Miami and Ohio State) and will also play in the Shillelagh College Hockey Tournament at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. on Jan. 1-2 (with host Notre Dame, Colgate and Niagara); and Wisconsin will host the Badger Hockey Showdown at the Kohl Center on Jan. 2-3 (with Ferris State, Merrimack and Yale).
The second half of the 2009-10 season will be dominated by head-to-head WCHA matchups and highlighted by Wisconsin hosting Michigan outdoors on the afternoon of Feb. 6 in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game will be preceded by an outdoor WCHA women's game between the Badgers and Bemidji State. In addition to the holiday tournaments, non-conference games scheduled during the second half of the season will consist of Minnesota State hosting RIT of the Atlantic Hockey Association on Jan. 1-2, St. Cloud State hosting Brown of ECAC Hockey on Jan. 2-3, Minnesota entertaining ECAC Hockey-member Harvard on Jan. 8-9, Michigan Tech hosting Northern Michigan on Jan. 12, St. Cloud State playing at ECAC Hockey-member Quinnipiac on Jan. 15-16, North Dakota at ECAC Hockey-member Cornell on Jan. 22-23, Minnesota Duluth at College Hockey America-member Bemidji State on Jan. 22-23, Denver entertaining Mercyhurst of Atlantic Hockey on Feb.. 5 and playing at Atlantic Hockey-member Air Force Academy on Feb.. 6, Colorado College host Air Force on Feb. 5 and Mercyhurst on Feb. 6, and Alaska Anchorage playing a home-and-home set with CCHA-member Alaska Fairbanks on Feb. 26-27.
The final weekend of the regular season will be March 5-7 and will feature all 10 league member teams engaged in WCHA play.
The pursuit of the WCHA Playoff Championship and the Broadmoor Trophy will get underway the weekend of March 12-14 with five first round conference playoff series. The top five ranked teams in the final regular season standings will host five best-of-three playoff series. The five first-round playoff winners will then advance to the 2010 Red BaronTM WCHA Final Five, set for March 18-20 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota Duluth is the defending WCHA playoff and Broadmoor Trophy champion, after the Bulldogs became the first team to ever win all three games at the Final Five.
Following the WCHA Final Five, four 2010 NCAA Men's Division 1 Regionals will be contested the weekend of March 26-28. Minnesota will host the NCAA West Regional at Xcel Energy Center on March 26-27, Rensselaer and ECAC Hockey will host the NCAA East Regional on March 26-27 at Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., the College of the Holy Cross will host the NCAA Northeast Regional on March 27-28 at DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., and Notre Dame will host the NCAA Midwest Regional on March 27-28 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The four NCAA regional winners will then advance to the 2010 NCAA Men's Frozen Four, set for April 8-10 at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich.