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News and notes from annual NCHC, WCHA, and national coach association meetings

Published: May 9, 2013, 4:05 pm, by Joe Paisley

WMU Leone shootout goalThe final Western Collegiate Hockey Association meetings this past weekend in Florida were a bittersweet occasion for Colorado College coach Scott Owens.

It served as the transition for the WCHA-founding Tigers as CC enters the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference it helped form last summer.

”It was not awkward but it was a little sad and a little more business-like (than usual),” Owen said. “The league was already meeting with the new members and the NCHC metearlier in the week.”

The transition affects the WCHA as well. Longtime commissioner Bruce McLeod, who has led the league for 20 years, said this coming season will ‘”probably” be his last, multiple sources have reported.

The NCHC met with all eight schools fully presented – athletic directors, coaches, faculty representatives – on hand for the first time and gave an update on the league office’s progress.

“You can’t believe all the things that need to be done to set up a new league,” Owens said.

The officiating program grabbed plenty of attention on a full slate. The deadline to apply to hockey operations head Joe Novak and supervisors of officials Don Adam to become a league official is May 15.  A system that would hold officials accountable and get them better training si expected.

“I think the fans will be pleased with the changes,” CC athletic director Ken Ralph said.

The league bylaws, postseason tournament and the 18-game TV package with CBS Sports Network also drew praise.

“I could not be more pleased with our first meetings in Naples,” NCHC Commissioner Jim Scherr said. “It was great to get everyone in the same place and on the same page as we prepare for our inaugural season. We have some tremendous individuals at each of our institutions that are highly motivated and very professional. We are just a couple of months from dropping the puck on opening weekend and I could not be more excited to get the season underway.”

The American Hockey Coaches Association annual meetings followed with talk of changing the NCAA regionals from neutral sites to the home arena of the regional top seed sites as last done in 1996. Tweaking the Pairwise rankings was discussed with no action made on either topic.

“About 35 to 40 percent of the Western coaches wanted to look at institutional sites but a lot like the neutrality,” Owens said. “We talked about other ways to help attendance, such as lowering ticket prices and student ticket discounts. I would like to see permanent western sites so fans can plan on attending in advance.”

No rule changes were proposed for the NCAA to consider.