The news that the College Hockey Showcase was shutting down after this weekend’s run at Mariucci Arena may not have news outside Minneapolis, but it was one more piece of data indicating the Big Ten would be forming a hockey conference down the road.
The decision to drop the College Hockey Showcase was fueled by two moves, say officials: Wisconsin‘s lack of interest in spending Thanksgivings in Minneapolis, and the impending Big Ten hockey conference.
It takes six teams to form a conference under NCAA rules, and when Penn State adds a varsity team for the 2014-2015 season, there will be at least six Big Ten hockey programs (Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State). Though Big Ten officials won’t publicly announce these plans, it’s pretty much an open secret in college-hockey circles, and the WCHA has already begun planning for the loss of Minnesota and Wisconsin by offering a guaranteed nonconference schedule for the schools. It will be attractive for the two schools to accept: It would allow both to maintain games with traditional rivals like University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State-Mankato.
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