If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know that we're fairly passionate about our hockey here. That's why this news is fairly distressing to us. Yesterday, the CCHA denied the University of Alabama Huntsville's application to join the league. What it means is the CCHA will remain an 11 team conference for the foreseeable future and yet another college hockey program is left on life support. As Yost Built points out there may be some behind-the-scenes reasoning for the denial that we're not aware of...
[T]he conference [may] know something we don't about the future of the Bowling Green program and they didn't want to go up to 12 only to be back down to 11 a year later.
For those who don't know, UAH won the DII national championship in 1994 and moved to D1 in 1998-1999. Despite having a conference made up of transitioning DII teams, the Chargers have shown they belong at the major college level of hockey. The local papers have some details on the denial:
In an e-mail, Anastos said major issues of concern for the CCHA Council included economics, facilities and location.
Yost Built takes exception to some of these arguments:
The Chargers have a 6,600 seat arena, and Huntsville is no further than Omaha was. I'd love to know what the true story is....and what the plan is moving forward. It's hard to believe the conference would be happy sticking with 11 teams. [Also] But BGSU just got $4 million for arena improvements, so that doesn't make much sense either.
Who knows. It's really bad news for the sport in general that UAH was denied. The amount of attention that College hockey has received over the last few years has been astonishing to any fan of the game who's watched iit for more than a year. National attention. Players at the college level are turning into superstars at the next levell. Public and professional attention has never been higher. And now the CCHA has basically signed the death certificate of a team with a national championship (DII). What's frustating at a MIchigan level is the loss of the potential exposure for hockey and Michigan in a corner of the world that doesn't get to see the winged helmet all that often. Imagine having southern kids saying they saw the winged helmet for the first time at a Hockey Game! It really would've been a good thing.
the bottom line is I can't bear to see another hockey program go by the wayside. Unless there's something we don't know about, the CCHA's decision makes little sense. I'm with Western College Hockey Blog on this one, this move effectively kills UAH's hockey program. This is not a good day for college hockey.