The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) has begun its 42nd and final season and will spend the year celebrating a lasting legacy.
Since its inception in 1971, the CCHA counts among its accomplishments eight national championship teams, seven Hobey Baker winners and 85 players who went on to skate in the NHL last year alone. In addition, 35 former players have their name on the Stanley Cup and at least one player has been drafted in the first round of the NHL draft in each of the last 12 years.
“The league is as strong now as it’s ever been,” CCHA Commissioner Fred Pletsch said. “It’s a shame that this will be the last year of the league, but we are doing everything we can to make sure we go out with a bang.”
The CCHA consists of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, teams which will leave for the Big Ten next year; Notre Dame, which is headed for Hockey East; and Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan, which are headed to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The remaining members Alaska Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan are moving to the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference (WCHA).
There are numerous plans surrounding the CCHA’s “Celebrate the Legacy” theme this season. At the front, conference members are trying to get as many CCHA alumni, including the Mason Cup playoff champions, come to the final CCHA Championship and awards show March 22-24, 2013 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Also, the CCHA is having a contest to find the biggest super fan in each CCHA City, commemorating the year with a Celebrate the Legacy logo patch which is being worn by all teams and officials, making a video of the history of the league and announcing a 2000-13 CCHA all-decade team.
For Pletsch, who has been on staff with the CCHA since 2001, first as director of communications then as associate commissioner and now as commissioner, there have been many great moments, but one tops them all.
“My most memorable moment would definitely have to be watching Michigan State win the national title in 2007,” Pletsch said. “They had to win the third-place game in the conference just to make the tournament, but they got hot at just the right time. To see the Spartans come together and play like they did over those final couple weeks and win the national championship was just special.”
• Denver hosts St. Cloud State this weekend in a two-game series and is looking to move to 6-0 on the season for the first time since 2003-04. The Pioneers, who lost the seventh game of that season, went on to win the first of its back-to-back national championships later that year. So far this year, Denver has won 5-1 in its Friday games and 5-2 in its Saturday games.
• RPI hosts Union (N.Y.) on Nov. 2 as part of Black Friday. The game, which is always the first home league contest for the Engineers, encourages fans to wear black as the team wears special black jerseys for the event. This year’s Black Friday game is the 10th all-time. RPI boasts a 7-1-1 record in the previous nine games. RPI has played Union once in this game, which happened to be the only Black Saturday, winning 4-3 in overtime in 2010. The Engineers have outscored their opponents 33-19 in Black Friday affairs.
• It is an Eastern pod vs. Western pod weekend in Atlantic Hockey. The match-ups include RIT at American International, Robert Morris hosting Bentley, Connecticut at Niagara, Sacred Heart welcoming Mercyhurst and Air Force hosting Holy Cross. In 2011-12, the AHA’s six Western teams (Air Force, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT, and Robert Morris) held a decisive 46-15-11 edge in Inter-pod play against the six eastern teams (American International, Army, Bentley, Connecticut, Holy Cross, Sacred Heart). RIT went 10-1-1 against the Eastern teams in 2011-12.
• Northeastern is unbeaten in its first three home games for the first time since 2008-09 and the 18th time in program history. The Huskies host Merrimack Friday night looking to extend that streak to four games which would close them in on the 7-0-1 start of the 2008-09 team, which was the last time Northeastern made the NCAA tournament. Including this season, the last four times NU has started its first three games without a loss at Matthews Arena took place in 2008-09, 2001-02, 2000-01 (all 2-0-1 marks). Northeastern’s best start at home occurred at the start of the 1983-84 season when the Huskies went 7-0-0.
Robert Morris’ home series this weekend will feature the team’s Men’s Cancer Awareness Weekend after the team found out that former captain Chris Kushneriuk was diagnosed with cancer this past summer. The team will be doing multiple fundraisers including a silent auction, selling “RMU Hockey Krushes Cancer” wristbands, a post-game autograph session and a collection jar during the weekend series to benefit Kushneriuk as well as cancer research. … Northern Michigan hosts No. 8 Michigan at the Berry Events Center this weekend, the second of three consecutive series against top 10 teams. After facing No. 7 Notre Dame last weekend and the Wolverines this weekend, the Wildcats travel to Miami (Ohio) to face the No. 4 RedHawks on Nov. 9-10. … Corban Knight¹s two-goal weekend for North Dakota gave him 99 career points, leaving him on the verge of becoming the 84th player in program history to join UND’s Century Club. … North Dakota’s Danny Kristo had a four-assist weekend and is now the leading active scorer in the WCHA with 113 points in 119 career games. Only Yale’s Andrew Miller (116 points) has more among active Division I players. … New Hampshire owns the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at five games. It is UNH’s best start since the 2007-08 season when it went 25-10-3 and won the Hockey East regular-season championship. … In the memory of longtime St. Cloud State statistician Marty Sundvall, who passed away in May 2012, the Huskies have named their Three-Stars of the Game award the Marty Sundvall Memorial Three Stars of the Game Award. … Miami (Ohio) volunteer assistant coach Tommy Hill will be returning to his alma mater this weekend as he is a 2012 graduate of Ferris State. He was a captain for the Bulldogs last year, helping lead them to the national championship game. … Wisconsin officially dedicates the Kohl Center ice to Bob Johnson Friday when it takes on Colorado College. The ice will now be known as Bob Johnson Rink. … While Bowling Green has not scored on the power play in four games, it has not allowed a power-play goal in that span either. The Falcons have killed off 13 consecutive power plays. … Friday’s game against Michigan Tech will mark the 100th game of Nebraska-Omaha’s Bryce Aneloski’s collegiate career.