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Brad Elliott Schlossman, Published June 19 2009

Summer could bring a lot of chaos to DI college hockey

Bemidji State is intently watching as the WCHA pursues and negotiates possible membership terms with Nebraska-Omaha. An agreement should mean a home in the WCHA for the Beavers, who will lose conference affiliation after the upcoming season.

You can bet that the other CCHA orphan is watching closely, too.

If Omaha departs the CCHA for the WCHA -- a move that is looking probable -- it would drop the CCHA to an odd number of 11 teams.

Alabama-Huntsville applied for membership in January and received a site visit from the CCHA a couple of weeks ago. The CCHA will vote on Huntsville's application in August. By then, it will know whether Omaha is on its way out.

Huntsville coach Danton Cole said today that he felt that the site visit went well. The CCHA had a few concerns and Cole said UAH is working to address those concerns "quickly."

"There is no guarantee on our future," Cole said, "regardless of what transpires with the other institutions over the summer. That being said, the university and our community are very proud of what we presented and what we have to offer the CCHA and college hockey."

It will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the summer, but it should be one of a lot of action in the college hockey world. The best-case scenario for the sport is that all of the CHA orphans are saved.

Although Minnesota State-Moorhead's president said on a WDAY interview last night that she sees the Dragons hosting UND ("and we would win," she said), making a trip to the Frozen Four and winning it, reality is starting to set in on what the Dragons are up against.

When this plan was unveiled two months ago, MSUM's plan was to step right into the WCHA alongside Bemidji State, Dean Blais was going to be the coach and the president said the financial backing was there.

Now, we know the WCHA is not interested, Dean Blais has a college job and MSUM says its major undertaking will be raising enough money (hence, the funds are not there yet).

If MSUM is going to start Division I hockey, it is going to have to not only raise major funds, but it also has to be willing to start up as an independent with no conference assurances. It needs to sustain it and show success. MSUM is too big of a risk for a conference to accept without proof that it can work (because it is a small, unfamiliar school with no history of soundly financing athletics).

MSUMs path to D-I hockey most likely looks like this: Raise the funds, start a hockey program without conference affiliation, schedule 28 nonconference games for a couple of years, show it can sustain success for a couple of years, hope that Bowling Green, Western Michigan or Ferris State drops hockey and puts the CCHA at an odd number and hope that the CCHA will go outside of its footprint to add an emerging program.

Lots of loops to jump through.

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