With Wayne State kicking off the year by saying it will get rid of hockey all together in 2008-09, the CHA has been under a lot of scrutiny, with pundits predicting bleak times. However, the demise of Wayne State for next year did not ruin the 2007-08 season.
This season, Bemidji State took the regular season crown, but, it is the tournament winner that goes on to the NCAA in a couple of weeks. Will the Beavers take the tournament? Let’s look at the first two match-ups.
#4 Wayne State vs. #5 Alabama-Huntsville
In their last season, the Warriors of Wayne State were 10-24-2. Led by Stavros Paskaris, the Warriors were able to pull off a couple of upsets, including two games against Northern Michigan while going 1-0-1 against St. Lawrence. Bill Wilkinson’s club just came out of a split against Niagara to close out their final regular season.
For Alabama-Huntsville, it was a struggling season for first year coach Danton Cole. However, the Chargers were in this position last year and took the CHA crown and came close to upsetting Notre Dame.
Expect Wayne State to play with a lot of fire power and Alabama-Huntsville to try to dictate the game on defense. The winner of this game will face Bemidji State.
#2 Niagara vs. #3 Robert Morris
Another 20 win season is in the books for Dave Burkholder’s squad. The Purple Eagles were one of a few teams hit with a bug. That bug is a player leaving in the middle of the season, Les Reaney. Nevertheless, Niagara should be a team to watch out for in not only this tournament, but possibly the NCAA.
Robert Morris is making an impact in just its fourth year as a Division I program. Last year Derek Schooley’s club made it to the final game from the same seeding. Will this year have the same results? The combination of Ryan Caruthers and Chris Margott will be a great test for the Purple Eagles.
#1 Bemidji State
Defense was the name of the game for Tom Serratore’s club. The Beavers got great goaltending from Matt Climie and defensemen such as Cody Bostock and Dave Deterding had their best year in 2007-08. Bemidji’s offense had four players over 20 points. Expect Bemidji State to avoid the upset against either Wayne State or Alabama-Huntsville and get to the title game.
Will this year mark the end of the CHA? If so it has been a good run; if not, then expect better things from this conference, which must get additional teams to survive.
Tournament Final Prediction: Niagara over Bemidji State