The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

September 26, 2013

WCHA coaches praise new league

MANKATO — The coaches in the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Association are still getting to know each other, but they sure seem so happy together right now.

During a preseason conference call Wednesday, the coaches said the league of teams leftover after the formation of the Big Ten and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference will be a hard, competitive one with good players, veteran coaches and intriguing rivalries.

"It's exceptionally close," Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. "That's the beauty of the league. There are so many like programs competing against each other, and that's going to be healthy for this league.

"Any team can win a championship, and that was not necessarily the case in the past."

The conference is made up of the four remaining members of the WCHA, five teams from the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association, and a formerly independent program.

Minnesota State is the overwhelming choice to win the conference. However, the coaches said they had to do a lot of extra research to learn about many of their new peers and their players in order to cast ballots for preseason awards.

Some of the coaches, including MSU's Mike Hastings and Michigan Tech's Mel Pearson, served as assistants with CCHA teams in the past, but there hasn't been much crossover otherwise.

Minnesota State has never played Lake Superior State or Northern Michigan. The last time the Mavericks played Ferris State was the 1998-99 season, and the last time they played Alaska was in 1994-95. They have played just two games against Bowling Green.

"Some of the coaches in the CCHA didn't know the WCHA and vice versa," Pearson said. "It's going to take a year or two."

Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque said another challenge will be to educate fans about the different teams that will be coming to the rink.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
Outdoors

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th 105-year-old woman throws first pitch A Stormtrooper and Chewbacca invade D-backs game Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal Could Rousey beat Mayweather? Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Boomer: Lovie, Bucs to surpirse in 2014 British Open Round 2 in 60 Seconds Gasol: Money wasn't the priority The British Open in 60 Seconds Who SI's Michael Bamberger is Picking to Win at Royal Liverpool — And Why Where Alabama needs the most improvement Verducci's Quick Pitch: Los Angeles Dodgers Verducci's Quick Pitch: St. Louis Cardinals Verducci's Quick Pitch: Atlanta Braves Can the Panthers replace Steve Smith? Will Bengals sign Dalton to long-term deal? Offseason Report: Biggest Question Marks in the AFC West Ole Miss facing increased expectations 49ers Open Posh, High-tech Stadium in California