Atlantic Hockey 2020-21

NCAA Round-Up: CCHA Up And Running, Atlantic Hockey Has Decisions To Make

NCAA Round-Up: CCHA Up And Running, Atlantic Hockey Has Decisions To Make

The CCHA is back up and running, while Atlantic Hockey has some serious decisions to make for the 2021-22 season.

May 27, 2021 by Jacob Messing
NCAA Round-Up: CCHA Up And Running, Atlantic Hockey Has Decisions To Make

The revitalized Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) has made a slew of announcements as the eight-team conference prepares for its inaugural season in 2021-22.

It was nearly two years ago that seven WCHA teams began the process of withdrawing from the conference with the intention of reforming the disbanded CCHA. Now, those seven teams in Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, and Northern Michigan have prepared to continue their rivalries in a newly minted NCAA conference while adding Minnesota-based University of St. Thomas.

The transition to the CCHA excluded previous WCHA programs, Alaska, Alaska Anchorage, and Alabama Huntsville. The decision was made through a culmination of reasons, but the CCHA’s travel area is much more in line with other NCAA conferences within a region covering Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.

The eight teams will be playing for the historic MacNaughton Cup, which has also been carried over from the WCHA and awarded to the regular-season champion, which is currently being defended by the three-straight winner, Minnesota State.

FloHockey will stream all 104 conference games live throughout the 2021-22 season, starting on October 8 when Northern Michigan and St. Thomas face off to mark the inaugural campaign of both the CCHA and St. Thomas’ welcome to Division I hockey.

Lake Superior State, the defending WCHA Tournament champion, will open its season by welcoming St. Thomas the following week. The Lakers made headlines earlier this week with the announcement of a six-year contract extension for coach Damon Whitten.

Left without a conference and having sat out the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic, the University of Alaska has not made any announcements regarding the lack of a 2021-22 campaign.

Also left without a conference, Alaska Anchorage and Alabama Huntsville announced they will be sitting out the 2021-22 season, but plan to fundraise with hopes to revive the programs in 2022-23. Alaska Anchorage received a shot in the arm via the NHL’s 32nd franchise the Seattle Kraken—slated to begin their inaugural season in 2021-22—with the raising of $150,000 toward the program.

Alabama Huntsville, which announced the discontinuation of the program last summer, saw a successful fundraising campaign bring the program back for the 2020-21 season. The pandemic continued to cloud the future of the program, in which the school said a long-term solution would be needed to move past the 2020-21 season.

Alabama Huntsville entered a bid that was rejected by the CCHA. The program also sent a bid to Atlantic Hockey, which has yet to respond with a decision.

While a one-year hiatus is required upon conference acceptance, the Chargers’ chances at a successful bid may have grown after the surprising and sudden announcement of Robert Morris’ discontinuation of their men’s and women’s Division I hockey programs.

Both programs have had noticeable success in recent years. The men’s program earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2014 with regular-season Atlantic Hockey titles in both 2015 and 2016 while winning the Western Pod this season.

The women’s program had NCAA Tournament berths in 2017 and 2021, including three regular-season conference titles in the past five years.

The pandemic continues to impact finances across collegiate sprots, extending beyond Division I, men’s programs, women’s programs, and various sports. 

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.