Just how big is the Western Region?

So, what’s up with the Western Region? Since when is UMD in the west? and why is Williston State in the west? Just where do the powers that be think those two schools are located? Idaho?

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F, Thanks for your input. M2 West as well as M3 Pacific is exceptionally large in terms of geographic area. We, at the ACHA do know where these teams are located geographically. While regional boundaries are geographic in nature, we also consider keeping the talent pools and the number of teams as equitable as possible. S

Sheriff, thanks for the reply. I agree that geographically the Western region is large, but I’m still wondering how exactly it is that University of Minnesota-Duluth ends up being ranked 12 in the West… Williston state seems pretty clearly a Central region team but since they are located at the far Western edge of North Dakota i can maybe see them in the west but that still doesnt answer UMD being ranked in the west!!! ther ehas to be some sort of mistake. right?

F, Thanks again. You might have a point with Minn-Duluth. UM and Mankato are placed in the Central, so the geographic line seems a bit skewed in the state of Minnesota. I will look into this with the Commissioner.

One point I would like to emphasize as I have on previous blog postings is the changing landscape of the entire ACHA. My focus with respect to the Men’s Divisions has been to strongly encourage and incentivize teams to move to the Division that most closely represents their talent level on the ice. As a result of our efforts, you have seen several teams move from M3 to M2 and M2 to M1 - we’ve been most successful in this process out west. This will not only provide for more exciting and competitive season match-ups, but also for a more competitive post season. Moreover, teams that have not been able to had the experience of the ACHA post-season, will now be able to compete more aggressively for those bids. Lastly, as we court sponsorships and partnerships with professional businesses such as the NHL, ESPN, Pure Hockey, Under Armour, they are conditioned to believe there is a talent and organizational difference between our divisions - to align in this manner, places the ACHA more in line with the US sports world.

To return to the M2 West, if you believe our computer rankings, the Region is not as strong as the other Regions this year. There are several reasons for this, including the move to M1 by Utah and ASU. Nationally, the West has Williston at #8, NCU at #20, UNLV at #23, and USU at #24 (this will change with the NCU losing big to UNLV, but the point remains germane). With NYU moving to M1 next season, the M2 Central and Southeast are clearly the strongest Regions at present.

Again, this all could change overnight in the ACHA, so we will continue to monitor closely. For example, next season, an entire conference is planning to move from M3 to M2, and several very strong M3 teams are moving up. With the phenomenal growth of M2 we are looking at further expansion of the M2 regionals to 16 teams (or 8x8 smaller regionals) with no Nationals auto-bid, to include more teams in the post season experience. As you know, we also brought the M1 style conference auto-bid to regionals into M2 last season with tremendous success. I realize some folks would disagree, but out of the 8 “play-in” games, 6 were decided by 2 or less goals. Of the two blowouts, one was #11 (who would not have made the previous cut) lunching #10 and a #9 crushing #12 (but that #9 won regionals and came within an overtime goal of reaching the M2 semi-finals. More importantly, the auto-bid created tremendous excitement in Conference tournaments throughout the nation of ACHA as teams fought to win a post-season bid.

With more parity in M2 and M3, we can expand the post-season while creating more excitement for the student-athletes and fans alike. And we can offer that experience to more teams that have not experienced the post-season. Like any sport, there will always be perennial power houses - but our goal is to create an opportunity for as many as possible to hoist the championship trophy.

Long winded answer, but know we are looking at every possible way to create that environment of parity and fairness for all our members.

Please continue to provide input and feedback. We will not shy away from criticism - and if we don’t have a good answer, we won’t bs the members. Some changes that will be made might be detrimental to a few, but we will continue to strive to make changes that benefit a majority of our members - not an easy task given hundreds of different points of view!

Thanks again. S

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UM-Duluth was placed in the latest West Rankings on accident. They are in the Central. Williston State is on the western border of North Dakota very near to Montana. So that’s why they were put in the West.

As BStare stated, M2 Commissioner just got back to me - UM-D was placed in the West by error. Will be corrected next week. Thanks for keeping us honest. S


Thanks for the wordy answer. Easily the most informative and helpful post I’ve seen on this or on hockey101 in forever.

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In regards to offering the post season experience to more teams, has the ACHA ever considered arraigning conferences/divisions based on school size. I know there are exceptions, as with anything in life, but a school of 5000 students who is lucky to get 4-5 prospects each year can not continuously compete at a high level versus a school of 40,000 student who may have 30 new prospects. I say continuously because you will always have that freak year when you pick up 5-6 great players so your team is competitive for 2-3 years; but it won’t last.

Minot State … #1 in M1, 2300 undergrads
Adrian … #3 in M1, 1600 undergrads
Davenport … #7 in M1, 6300 undergrads
Robert Morris IL … #8 in M1, 2600 undergrads
Jamestown … #9 in M1, 970 undergrads
Lindenwood … #10 in M1, 8400 undergrads

Hardly just exceptions when a majority of the M1 top-10 teams are from institutions in the 5000 undergraduate enrollment range, and apart from Jamestown (new this season) they’re all perennial favorites, not just competitive for 2-3 years.

Most of those examples also have multiple teams in other ACHA men’s divisions (Adrian even fields an NCAA-D3 team above their ACHA-M1 squad) … not sure how that would work out, if ACHA divisions were organized by school size. No, school size doesn’t appear to correlate very well with the quality of team a school can put on the ice.