Big Ten athletic directors with pucks programs unanimously voted to support the launch of a men’s Big Ten hockey conference in the 2013-2014 academic year.
With Penn State raising its club hockey program to varsity status upon completion of a new $88-million arena, six Big Ten schools — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and the aforementioned Penn State — will have full hockey programs. That’s the magic number for those teams to petition the Big Ten for conference status.
The new circuit will play 20 games with each member playing each other member four times (two home, two away). The move from the ADs includes a March tournament to determine the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.
One issue that sparked plenty of discussion: how to maintain traditional rivalries within the WCHA and CCHA; after all, it would be a pretty empty season without Minnesota taking on North Dakota, UMD or St. Cloud State. If the season is 38 games — not counting one of the many exemptions to this ceiling, of course — that gives the Big Ten teams 18 nonconference games. That’s plenty of room for a Minnesota to play six or seven WCHA teams.
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