ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Western Collegiate Hockey Association today announced that its highly-successful men’s playoff championship — known as the WCHA Final Five — will head to Van Andel Arena and the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons and will return to Xcel Energy Center and the City of Saint Paul, Minn., for the 2014-15 and 2016-17 campaigns.
“We just couldn’t be more pleased to be able to host the best conference post-season hockey tournament in the country in two of the premier facilities in the midwest,” said WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod. “We are tremendously excited to bring WCHA championship hockey and the quest for the Broadmoor Trophy to Grand Rapids as well as continue our long-standing tradition and success of playing in Saint Paul.
“Both Grand Rapids and Saint Paul are wonderful travel destinations for fans, featuring first-class arenas centered in exciting downtown areas with noteworthy tourist attractions, great shopping, and fine hotels and restaurants. In Grand Rapids, we have the proximity of our Michigan-based WCHA teams and in Saint Paul of our Minnesota-based schools. This is truly the best of both worlds for us.”
“The city of Grand Rapids, the West Michigan Sports Commission and Van Andel Arena all look forward to hosting the WCHA in 2014,” said Richard MacKeigan, Regional General Manager of Van Andel Arena. “Hockey in general and college hockey specifically is a passion for West Michigan and we look forward to working with the WCHA to share that passion with the players, coaches and fans. We know your experience will be a great one in Grand Rapids, March of 2014!”
“We are pleased to once again partner with the WCHA on their championship tournament,” said Xcel Energy Center Vice President and General Manager Jack Larson. “We have a long-standing tremendously successful relationship with them, and we are committed to building on this foundation for years to come.”
The men’s WCHA will sport an exciting and highly-competitive 10-team league next season, with membership consisting of University of Alabama Huntsville, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University.
Along with the announcement of future championship sites, the league also unveiled both a new post-season playoff format for the upcoming 2013-14 season that will feature the top eight teams in the final regular season standings engaging in first-round, best-of-three playoff series at the home site of the top four finishers, followed by the four first-round winners advancing to the WCHA Playoff Championship the following weekend, which would consist of two semifinal games on the first day of the event followed by the Broadmoor Trophy title contest on day two. The dates of the 2014 WCHA Final Five at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids are March 21-22 (Friday/Saturday) with the return to Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul for the 2015 WCHA Playoff Championship set for March 20-21 (Friday/Saturday).
The WCHA tournament will follow the league’s 140-game conference slate that will have each of the 10 teams playing 28 games, 14 at home and 14 away, with the regular season champion being awarded college hockey’s most renowned and valuable trophy — the MacNaughton Cup. Each team will play five other league members four times each and four others two times each. The WCHA has had a 28-games per team conference schedule in place since 1997-98.
“We are looking forward to a tremendous season in 2013-14 and all the excitement and interest that the new-look WCHA will generate,” said McLeod. “This new post-season tournament format will make for an ultra-competitive regular season race among the 10 teams, followed by our traditional first-round, best-of-three playoff series and then the ultimate reward of playing for the Broadmoor Trophy and an automatic berth into the national tournament in two of the premier hockey venues in the country. We are all enthused and we are ready and rarin’ to go.”
The WCHA Final Five will alternate between those two midwestern venues, with the newly-formed Big Ten Conference playing their post-season event at Xcel Energy Center every other year beginning in 2014. Xcel Energy Center has been home to the WCHA Final Five since 2001 and the WCHA has held a men’s post-season tournament annually since 1959-60, although in a number of different formats.
Van Andel Arena, located in the heart of Grand Rapids, is a 10,834-seat multi-purpose arena that opened in October of 1996 and has since attracted over five million patrons. It serves as the home of the popular Grand Rapids Griffins ice hockey team, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, and has hosted NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regionals in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 in addition to numerous marquee concerts and shows. Van Andel Arena will also host the 2013 NCAA Men’s Hockey West Regional on March 29-30.
Xcel Energy Center, located in downtown Saint Paul, has a seating capacity of 17,954 and is home to the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild and has hosted the men’s WCHA Final Five since 2001. Xcel Energy Center has also hosted the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in 2002 and 2011 and NCAA Men’s Hockey Regional tournaments in 2010, 2012 and will again in 2014.
The men’s WCHA Playoff Championship has drawn 1,564,489 fans and averaged nearly 13,400 fans per game since 1988, when the league’s four-team final round was contested at the Saint Paul Civic Center between 1988-92. Beginning in 1993, the league went to a Final Five and for the next eight seasons and through 2000, was played at the Saint Paul Civic Center (1993, 1995, 1997), the Bradley Center in Milwaukee (1994, 1996, 1998) and Target Center (1999, 2000). Since moving into Xcel Energy Center for the 2001 WCHA Final Five, the league has consistently drawn some of college hockey’s biggest crowds for its championship, including a total of 923,566 fans over the past 12 years and an average of 15,393 fans per game.
The men’s WCHA, college hockey’s most historic and successful league and home to a record 37 national championship teams since its founding in 1951, has held a post-season championship tournament annually since 1959-60, although in a number of different formats.
*Broadmoor Trophy Awarded to WCHA Playoff Champion*
The second of the WCHA’s two major championship trophies for men’s competition (along with the MacNaughton Cup which is awarded to the WCHA regular season champion) is the Broadmoor Trophy, which has been awarded annually since 1985 to the winner of the conference’s post-season championship tournament.
The history of the Broadmoor Trophy dates to 1981, when it was first presented to the conference by the world-renowned Broadmoor Hotel and Resort Complex of Colorado Springs, Colo. For the first three seasons of its partnership with the WCHA (1981-1984) — and due to the departure of league member and MacNaughton Cup (regular season championship trophy) custodian Michigan Tech to the CCHA — the Broadmoor Trophy was presented to the Association’s regular season champion. But when the Huskies returned to the WCHA in 1984 — with the MacNaughton Cup in hand — the Broadmoor Trophy became, and has remained since, the symbol of the league’s post-season tournament championship.
In March of 2010, in conjunction with the annual WCHA Final Five, the Association unveiled a striking new Broadmoor Trophy. The new bronze cast trophy, created by Blue Ribbon Trophies & Awards of Colorado Springs, Colo., is a recreation of the famous Broadmoor Hotel. Long an ardent supporter of college hockey, the Broadmoor Hotel included the former Broadmoor World Arena, which hosted the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship a total of 11 times between 1948 and 1969.
There are a total of three Broadmoor trophies. The largest is currently on display at Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul in conjunction with the WCHA Final Five, one is a traveling trophy, and one is awarded to the winning team each year as a permanent addition to their display case.