Western Michigan and Miami battled it out in the CCHA Semi-Finals last year. How do both of their schedules look in the final season of the historic conference? (Photo - WMU Media File)
While football starts in a little over 3 weeks, hockey season is just 59 days away. That's right, two months to go. The MAC looks to defend/improve on their 1st, 3rd, and 4th place finish in the CCHA tournament this year, in the final year of the conference before the league dissolves into the Big Ten (MSU, Michigan, OSU), NCHC (Miami & WMU), WCHA (BGSU, Alaska, LSSU, NMU, Ferris State), and Hockey East (ND). This year will be dubbed "Celebrate the Legacy", and every team will vie for the last Mason Cup to keep forever.
The CCHA announced their composite schedule the other day, and after a long looking over, I have some tidbits for you guys.
- For scheduling purposes, the teams were divided into two groupings. Every team plays the other 2 times, for 20 games total. There are a total of 28 CCHA games per team
- The first group consisted of 5 teams: Miami, LSSU, Alaska, NMU, and Ohio State. These teams play each other an additional 2 games to make up the other 8.
- The second group of 6 teams were divided into 3 pairs: MSU/WMU, Michigan/BGSU, ND/Ferris State. Each team here plays all of the other teams EXCEPT their pair an additional two times to make up their 8. So we don't get to see a Michigan/BGSU rematch 4 times.
- Bowling Green opens the entire NCAA slate this year with a trip to Niagara on October 6th. Neat-o for a team that has zero outdoor games this year
- All three teams open their home schedules 6 days later on the 12th against Union (BG), Colgate (MU), and St. Lawrence (WMU)
- The MAC hits pro stadiums near you this year. 3-4 different possible venues in 3 different sports. Comerica Park, home of the MLB's Detroit Tigers host the Great Lakes Invitational where WMU will play 2 games on December 27th & 28th
- Soldier Field, the historic home of the NFL's Chicago Bears will host a double-header on Feb. 17th including a match between Miami and Notre Dame.
- And the NHL is getting in on the action as well. Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings will again host the CCHA Championship Finals. But in case none of our 3 teams make it, Miami heads to the Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for the Pittsburgh College Classic on December 28th & 29th.
- As far as hockey MACtion goes, Miami plays their foes 4 times, while WMU and BG both have 6 games in the trinity. WMU-BG open it with a home-and-home on Nov. 9 & 10 (WMU hosts first). They repeat that same thing on Jan. 18 & 19. Miami gets their shot first against BG the next weekend in Oxford. WMU hosts the RedHawks on Feb. 8 & 9
- Toledo and Grand Rapids both host NCAA Regionals this season, with BG listed as host in Toledo (UofM hosts Grand Rapids[???]). They run March 29-31, with the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh on April 11-13.
- Lastly, the CCHA Championship will again run it's first two rounds at campus sites. Seeds 6, 7, & 8 host 9, 10, and 11 respectively on March 8-10. The quarter-finals re-seed the winners with the lowest seed playing the 1-seed, and so on. High seeds host, and the 4th seed hosts the 5th seed on a bye. That is March 15-17. The CCHA Championship Final will be March 22nd and 23rd.
So that's all I have for now. I'll be back with more breaking news/team previews in September. Until then, let's do football season. ALSO, I have to send my congrats to WMU D-Man Garrett Haar for successfully making the final roster for the USA Junior Team.