WCHA sets 2013-14 postseason format

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced Saturday that its men’s playoff championship known as the WCHA Final Five will head to Van Andel Arena and the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons and will return to Xcel Energy Center and the City of Saint Paul, Minn., for the 2014-15 and 2016-17 campaigns.

“We just couldn’t be more pleased to be able to host the best conference post-season 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.”

Along with the announcement of future championship sites, the league also unveiled both a new post-season 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 dates of the 2014 WCHA Final Five at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids are March 21-22 (Friday/Saturday) with the return to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul for the 2015 WCHA Playoff Championship set for March 20-21 (Friday/Saturday).

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.

League members for the 2013-14 season include Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Lake Superior St., Bemidji St., Minnesota St., Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska (Fairbanks), Ferris St., and Bowling Green.

The WCHA Final Five will alternate between those two midwestern venues, with the newly-formed Big Ten Conference playing their post-season 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 post-season tournament annually since 1959-60, although in a number of different formats.