MINNEAPOLIS – The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) has released an outline of the league's 2018-19 composite schedule, which includes weekend dates and match-ups for the entire conference. Exact game dates and times for the league's 20th anniversary season will be announced at a later date.
As the WCHA celebrates 20 years of excellence, today's leaders and champions will play an 84-game league slate, along with several intriguing non-conference contests and the inaugural four-team Minnesota Cup tournament in January, before concluding the season with the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff championship at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis on March 9-10.
The 2018-19 composite schedule, as announced by WCHA Vice President and Women's League Commissioner Katie Million, outlines weekend dates and opponents for each of the league's seven member institutions. Exact game days and times, which will follow the :07 and :37 format for league games and non-conference home contests, will be finalized and announced on a later date.
"On behalf of the WCHA Women's League and its member institutions, I am proud to announce the schedule for our 20th anniversary season in 2018-19," said Million. "Our league's history is one of unparalleled accomplishments. The exciting schedule we have on tap for next season – with innovations such as the Minnesota Cup, along with non-conference games against the best from other conferences and our own, highly-competitive league schedule – creates a tremendous new chapter in the WCHA legacy.
"We look forward to announcing 20th anniversary details in the coming weeks and are thrilled to celebrate 20 years of excellence with our fans, student-athletes and programs in WCHA arenas next season!"
The gauntlet that is the WCHA league schedule will once again feature 24 games in 2018-19, comprised of two series (one home and one away) against each of the other six member institutions. The chase for the regular season title begins the weekend of Oct. 5-7, when Minnesota Duluth hosts Minnesota. A total of 16 weekends will feature at least one WCHA series, including 12 with a full possible allotment of three league sets.
The inaugural Minnesota Cup will be played at Ridder Arena on Jan. 5-6, 2019. The tournament consists of four non-conference games featuring Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State, and the Gophers. Saturday's semifinals pit the Mavericks against the Huskies and the Bulldogs against Minnesota, and the consolation and championship games will be held Sunday. Future Minnesota Cup hosts include: Minnesota Duluth (2020), Minnesota State (2021), St. Cloud State (2022), and Bemidji State (2023), with the WCHA's five Minnesota-based member schools rotating in participation each season.
Non-Conference Schedule and Exhibitions
The WCHA, which led the nation with a .614 non-league winning percentage in 2017-18 (34-21-2), will play 54 games against teams from other conferences in 2018-19. The schedule features four of the five non-WCHA teams that qualified for the 2018 NCAA tournament, while including a minimum of 24 games against five College Hockey America (CHA) schools (with the potential for a 25th), 23 contests against nine ECAC Hockey opponents and at least six games against a trio of Hockey East programs (with a seventh game, against a fourth school, possible).
Minnesota's non-conference opponents for 2018-19 include series with Mercyhurst (Sept. 28-30), Yale (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), and Robert Morris (Dec. 7-9), along with a trip to Burlington, Vt., for the Windjammer Classic, where the Gophers will face St. Lawrence and either Vermont or Syracuse (Nov. 23-25).
2019 WCHA Postseason Tournament
All seven league teams advance to the 2019 WCHA Postseason Tournament, seeded by finish in the final regular season standings. As a reward for emerging as either WCHA champion or co-champion following the league's 84-game schedule, the top-seeded team will earn a bye for the quarterfinal round and will advance directly to the WCHA Final Faceoff playoff championship. The remaining six teams will play best-of-three, WCHA quarterfinal-round series, hosted by the higher seeds, the weekend of March 1-3. Those three winners will advance to join the top seed at the 2019 WCHA Final Faceoff. College hockey's top conference championship weekend is set for March 9 and 10 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
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