WCHA delays start of men’s hockey season

Seawolves, Nanooks among association’s 10 teams
 Photo courtesy: WCHA
Photo courtesy: WCHA (WLUC)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 11:45 AM AKDT
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1ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Western Collegiate Hockey Association announced Thursday that it will delay the start of the men’s 2020-21 ice hockey season. The announcement came from the league as part of a larger announcement from the Hockey Commissioners Association, involving all 11 collegiate hockey conferences.

“We continue to engage in thorough evaluation and discussion of various options for safely opening the 2020-21 season, both nationally and within the WCHA, as the health and safety of everyone associated with our league is our top priority,” wrote WCHA Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson in the announcement. “There was a strong desire to open the season as scheduled on October 3, but that is not possible given the realities we are facing. While we are still finalizing plans for our season at this point, we owe it to our student-athletes, coaches, officials and great fans to acknowledge the fact we will not begin play on time.”

The announcement acknowledged the complexities of operating under multiple state, local, university, institutional and NCAA mandates regarding COVID-19. The conference currently includes 10 teams in five states — University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks in Alaska; the University of Alabama Huntsville; Bemidji State and Minnesota State in Minnesota; Bowling Green State in Ohio; and Ferris State, Lake Superior State; Michigan Tech; and Northern Michigan University in Michigan.

The announcement from the Hockey Commissioners Association said each conference would announce plans for the season individually.

The UAA Seawolves had been slated for their first competition of the season Oct. 11 at the University of Maine, a non-WCHA team. The Seawolves' first home series was to be Oct. 25 and 26 against in-state rivals the UAF Nanooks at the Seawolf Sports Complex on campus.

The announcement comes on the same day the University of Alaska Board of Regents will consider a proposal by UAA to restructure the athletic department, which includes cutting the hockey team.

The Nanooks were slated to play their first game of the season against WCHA rival Lake Superior State in Fairbanks at the Carlson Center on Oct. 3 and 4.

The WCHA says a new 2020-21 league schedule and details regarding non-league play and the WCHA postseason tournament will be announced later this fall.

The 2020-21 season is the last in which the WCHA is to operate with 10 teams. All of its members save for three —UAA, UAF and University of Alabama Huntsville — are slated to join the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Editor’s note: Alaska’s News Source will be covering the UA Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

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