The Northern Michigan University Wildcats will remain members of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for the foreseeable future. Although there was talk about the possibility of moving the team to the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association), the decision was ultimately made to keep the Wildcats where they are.
“We were approached by that league, about whether we’d consider rejoining or not,” said Wildcat hockey coach Walt Kyle. “Any time that happens, you’re foolish to just throw away options.”
Northern Michigan University was once a member of the WCHA from 1984-1997, a period during which the Wildcats made four NCAA tournament appearances, winning the title in 1991.
The WCHA would pit the ‘Cats against perennial powerhouses like University of Minnesota, Wisconsin-Madison, and University of North Dakota, but the staff at NMU decided it wasn’t worth the switch.
“We think we’re in arguably one of the best conferences in the country right now,” Kyle said. “When you compare [the two leagues], our league has certainly been more successful at putting teams in the national tournament.”
Keeping games available to alumni was also motivation.
“The bulk of our alumni base is downstate,” said Kyle. “That’s the reason we made the move back to the CCHA.”
One school that is leaving the CCHA is University of Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks will play their final season as CCHA members this year and compete as a WCHA team in 2010. Also going to the WCHA are the Bemidji State University Beavers. The Beavers’ current home, College Hockey America, is disbanding in 2010, forcing its teams to move elsewhere.
Two of the four CHA members, Niagara University and Robert Morris are going to the Atlantic Hockey conference, leaving the University of Alabama-Huntsville as the only school without a place to go. The Chargers of UA-Huntsville applied for admission to the CCHA, but were denied.