After a decade of talk and tossing around the idea, this past summer, all the right pieces fell into place for a group of ACHA teams. Beginning the 2013-2014 season, the new Division 1 Western Collegiate Hockey League will begin play within the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Six teams will be playing in the inaugural year. The teams were chosen with many factors in mind, including proximity to lessen travel costs and level of talent matchup.
University of Arizona-Currently D1; Ranked #16
Arizona State University-Currently D1; Ranked #1
University of Central Oklahoma-Currently D1; Ranked #18
University of Colorado-Currently D2; Ranked #6 in West Region
Colorado State University-Currently D2; Ranked #2 in West Region
University of Oklahoma-Currently D1; Ranked #6
Colorado and Colorado State have been approved and will make the transition to ACHA Division 1 play beginning with the 2013-2014 season. Once that decision had been finalized, the formation of the WCHL was able to come together. Arizona, Arizona State, Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma were all Independent teams within the ACHA system.
Each team will play 16 WCHL league games, three games against each interstate league opponent and four games against each intrastate opponent. In the ACHA, conference champions get automatic bids to the national tournament (excluding this first year of play). The WCHL is in discussion for having a playoff system, but nothing is in place yet. It is doubtful the Western Collegiate Hockey League would need an auto-bid, since the teams comprising it are generally always in the top 20 anyway, earning a trip to Nationals. The Arizona and Oklahoma schools are all currently ranked in the top 20.
This past weekend showcased a set of games of future WCHL teams in the state of Oklahoma. UCO and OU competed in a series against both Arizona and Arizona State. Oklahoma unfortunately, would go 0-3 on the weekend, losing one to Arizona and two to #1 Arizona State. Darrel Bolden, Kevin Zehnder and Jon Schanke had the three lonely goals scored for the Sooners, one per weekend game. Penalties seemed to derail the game for OU in yet another that looked a lot closer on the ice until the Sun Devils piled on the goals.
Central Oklahoma went 1-2, beating Arizona in their two game series, but lost to Arizona State.
Arizona State (18-0) will continue to enjoy their first time being number one in school history, then will meet NCAA Penn State in two weeks.
The Sooners will also have the holiday weekend off, then travel to Champaign,Il, facing the #7 Fighting Illini (9-5) for a two game series.