Is the Big Ten Conference Good for College Hockey?

Is the Big Ten Conference Good for College Hockey?

 

If you think the college football landscape was altered this past season, take a quick look at the future of college hockey! In football, teams left and joined other conferences, thereby  challenging the intricacies of the mathematical world— Big Ten=12…Big Twelve=10 — and the geographical layout of the United States. Since when are Boise and San Diego in the east?

Although the college football alignment seems to be flipped upside-down, I dare say that college hockey has them beat. Two new conferences are being created, and another  will cease to exist. And it’s all because of Penn State and the Big Ten.

With Penn State making hockey a varsity sport, the Big Ten has decided to form  a hockey conference of their own, causing the CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Association) and WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) to lose their biggest schools. From the CCHA: Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, and from  the WCHA: Wisconsin and Minnesota, will become members of the Big Ten in 2013.

The transfer of these teams caused a panic amongst the rest of the CCHA and WCHA schools. It lead to the CCHA losing the rest of their schools and the WCHA losing their powerhouse programs to create a new conference, the NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference). Are you still keeping up?

Let’s have another math and geography lesson. The soon-to-be Big Ten hockey conference will have…six schools. And according to the college hockey world, South Bend, Indiana, is considered part of the east coast following  Notre Dame’s move to the Hockey East conference (from the CCHA).

But we have yet to answer the question: “Is the Big Ten conference good for college hockey?” I’ll go out on a limb and say yes. Although the loss of the CCHA is sad, the new NCHC (comprised of WCHA and CCHA schools) is going to be a college hockey power! And although the WCHA is losing so many of their great programs, there are still a number of schools in that conference that make it interesting to follow. Ferris State, which will be a new member of the WCHA, has just made it to the Frozen Four in Tampa. Michigan Tech is making progress, as is Minnesota State.

The Hockey East remains intact with the acquisition of Notre Dame, and the Big Ten conference has Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Each of those schools appeared in the national championship game at least once since 2002. Although the conference realignment will be different, I think the new  conferences will make for a very interesting future for college hockey.

Also, the Big Ten Network will help make the conference and the sport more noticeable, plus bring more money into the sport. Additionally, Notre Dame will have a national television deal with NBC sports, which  means two national television networks will be broadcasting college hockey during the regular season!

The conference realignment does nothing to diminish the competition in the sport, and it provides the possibility of more national exposure. Which is why I say the Big Ten IS good for college hockey.

Here are the updated conferences for the start of the 2013 season…

ATLANTIC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Air Force
American International
Army
Bentley
Canisius
Connecticut
Holy Cross
Mercyhurst
Niagara
Rochester Institute of Technology
Robert Morris
Sacred Heart

BIG TEN (6 teams, new)                                   
Michigan (from CCHA)
Michigan State (from CCHA)
Minnesota (from WCHA)
Ohio State (from CCHA)
Penn State (from independent)
Wisconsin (from WCHA)

CCHA (Disbands after 2012-13)

ECAC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Brown
Clarkson
Colgate
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Princeton
Quinnipiac
Rensselaer
St. Lawrence
Union
Yale

HOCKEY EAST (11 teams, Notre Dame)
Boston College
Boston University
Maine
Massachusetts
Massachusetts-Lowell
Merrimack
New Hampshire
Northeastern
Providence
Vermont
Notre Dame (CCHA)

NCHC (8 teams, new)
Colorado College (from WCHA)
Denver (from WCHA)
Miami (from CCHA)
Minnesota-Duluth (from WCHA)
Nebraska-Omaha (from WCHA)
North Dakota (from WCHA)
St. Cloud State (from WCHA)
Western Michigan (from CCHA)

WCHA (5 new)
Alaska (from CCHA)
Alaska-Anchorage
Bemidji State
Ferris State (from CCHA)
Lake Superior State (from CCHA)
Michigan Tech
Minnesota State
Northern Michigan (CCHA)
Bowling Green (CCHA)

INDEPENDENT (1 team)
Alabama-Huntsville

 

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  • I'm a Badger hockey fan, and Michigan hockey fan when their not playing UW. While I will like having conference games vs. Michigan and MSU, I'd rather play N. Dakota, Colorado Coll, Denver and UM-Duluth than Penn State and OSU. The new Big Ten will have 4 premier hockey schools Minn, UW, UM, and MSU (OSU is rising though), HE and the new NCHC will each have 5. However what is the appeal of the 6 team conference and only 10 conferecne games? Becuase the conference netowrk has an open 8pm EST timeslot that it needs filled, which was a reason the conferecne went for hockey. Granted this leaves 18 games to schedule with other high power programs, but they all have larger conferecnes, 18 game conference schedules in some cases, so scheduling will be an issue for the big Ten vs. HE, WCHA and NCHC.

    All other Big Ten schools that do not field varsity hockey have club teams, even Northwestern. Illinois, Iowa and Indiana club teams are strong clubs that compete in DI of the ACHA ( the NCAA of club hockey) and play at higher level than NCAA DIII, I've been to some games, it's good hockey.

    Nortre Dame lands on it's feet thanks to their hockey rivalary with Boston College. The CCHA deserves to be shafted due to there snub of Huntsville after the CHA was dissovled with Bemidji moving to the WCHA. Travel for most CCHA schools was citied as why Huntsville wouldn't fit......forgetting the flight from Fairbanks, AK to Colombus, OH is probabaly not a picnic.

    Of course, I'm a fan, so I'm going to watch, follow the games and standings and go to games and NCAA regionals with my father and brother when able. I don't like it, I want my WCHA back, but I'm not taking my puck and going home either.

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