The Mid-American Conference doesn't technically recognize hockey as a sport, because the Central Collegiate Hockey Association is a different entity altogether. That doesn't mean we can't get behind this: Saturday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Western Michigan and Miami will play for the CCHA Championship.
In double-upsets on Friday, No. 4 Western Michigan (ranked 12th in the nation) thumped No. 1 (4th) Michigan 5-2 and No. 3 Miami crushed Notre Dame 6-2, no doubt avenging Akron's loss in the NCAA basketball tournament.
That sets up a one-game championship for an automatic bid into the 16-team NCAA Hockey Championship. Conventional logic dictates that the RedHawks will make it regardless, so they're playing for a better seed. But WMU is squarely on the ice-bubble and wearing Teflon boots, so this one is necessary to advance.
The CCHA final is at 7:35 p.m. at JLA. Neither team has ever won the Mason Cup, the trophy given to the CCHA champion. But the Cup was instantiated in 2001, and history goes further back than that. Western Michigan won the CCHA tournament in 1986 in their only trip, while Miami is 0-3 in this game (1993, 2006, 2008).
It's a pretty neat series of events considering only three of the 12 CCHA teams are MAC-affiliated. The other one is Bowling Green who was slotted as the No. 12 seed but did win their opening-round series at No. 6 Northern Michigan before getting crushed at Michigan in the quarterfinals.
So it's not just basketball. Championship buggery is just everywhere ... in the frozen hustle belt.