M2 Regional Tourneys

@Sheriff Will the results of the various league playoffs affect the rankings, apart from autobids, or are the regional rankings set before the beginning of league playoffs? In other words, if a team is just outside of regional contention after the regular season is done but beats 2 or 3 highly ranked teams on the way to the championship game but ultimately loses the final (thereby missing out on the autobid), will those playoff games affect the rankings? See, e.g., Rider University last year.

Poke, good question. Rankings end the weekend of 11-12 Feb, final rankings to be announced 15 Feb. Therefore, if the Conference tournament is held after the games will not influence the final rankings. I’m quite familiar with the Rider run last season - very exciting for the MACH, given had they beat UD in the finals, they would have displaced VTech (another MACH team) for the regionals. If a conference would like the games to count, they can move the tournament forward on the calendar by one week. One note of caution, however, this is a zero sum game - Rider’s gain last year would have been at the expense of PSU, Rowan, and to some extent, LU. Thanks for asking.

What about 1st yr teams that must serve the post season ban for being a new team. Example Aurora D2 in the central. That’s brand new team and highly ranked. LU-B and plenty others sat there first year just saying. Does everyone move up spots if teams are held out? Also how do you find out what each conference does for there auto bid (regular season champs or playoff champs).

A/X, another great post.

ACHA Probation: The ACHA probationary year you refer to only pertains to a first year ACHA team, such as M1 Jamestown this season. This policy does not apply to teams that will be moving up or down divisions. For example, NYU and UNLV will be moving up to M1 for the 2017-2018 season, but will not be required to “sit out” there first year in M1 - if they qualify, either by auto-bid, or rankings, they will be in Nationals. Aurora fits into the same category. The M3 Aurora team from last season, who came within a goal from moving into the semi-finals in M3, decided to move up to M2 this season. Along with Met State-Denver, both will reach the regionals in their inaugural M2 season. We should applaud their success. As stated in many prior posts, we are making every effort to encourage teams to participate at the appropriate competitive level and not “sand bag” in a lower division where they overpower most of their competition.

M2 Auto-bids: The idea behind the auto-bid is not to lessen any team’s chance to participate in the post season through the ranking process, but rather to permit more exposure to teams and their conferences to the excitement of Regionals. It also, I believe, provides more cohesion to the conferences by giving them an opportunity to play for the post season, while strengthening the commissioner’s authority to achieve compliance within their conference. The ACHA relies heavily on these volunteer commissioners every season to “hurd the cats” in their respective conferences - mostly it is a thankless job - the auto-bid, in part, recognizes the hard work they do each season.

The auto-bid policy for M2 was adopted from, then made more strict from the M1 Division. M1 has had this policy in place for many years, and has for the most part, been very successful in promoting the game and strengthing conferences. M1 added four teams to the National Tournament to expand from a 16 team bracket to a 20 team bracket to accommodate any auto-bid teams not ranked in the top 16. To date, the number of teams not in the top 20, has numbered 2 or 3 per year - giving the ranked teams an extra one or two bids they would not have had previously. We adapted the same philosopy when we approved the M2 auto-bids, expanding regionals from 8 to 10 teams (3-12 seeds), given the fact that some auto-bids might not be ranked in the top 10. Last year, only the Southeast had two teams not ranked in the top 12 who received an auto-bid. In the other 3 regions, the #11 teams were given an invitation they would not have been given under the old format.

That worked well for #11 Michigan who beat #10 Lewis then took Davenport to OT, I believe. Of the 8 “Play-in” games, only one was a blowout, and two lower seeds actually won. In the SE, GWU lost by 2 (1 EN), and Princeton lost in OT - both first time teams to the ACHA post season. Will keep monitoring for future adjustments to the policy changes. The general policy rules are:

  • Conference must be well established (4 years in good standing with ACHA). Exception - Texas Conference will be granted auto-bid next year (given by Mike R. prior to his passing).
  • Conference must have 8 teams (if a conference has qualified for an auto-bid, and loses teams to take them below 8, they are waivered in for 1 year - after that 1 year with the auto-bid, the conference must return to 8 teams to qualify)
  • All Conference members must be in good standing with the ACHA (Fees paid, Eligibility forms submitted).
  • Teams within a conference receive an auto-bid in which the conference is located geographically, NOT the team.

This season, the breakout is as follows:
Northeast: SuperEast, NECHA
Southeast: ACC, MACH, Tri-State, Colonial
West: Mountain West, PAC-8

As you can see from the list, we do not believe the teams that receive auto-bids will exceed the #11 or #12 seeds for Regionals.

I do not have the breakdown, but MOST conferences select the auto-bid by their Championship Tournaments. This has added value and excitement to these end of season tournaments as teams beyond the #10 seed fight for the auto-bid. Example last year, Rider won several upsets in MACH only to lose a close game in the finals against UD - they just fell 2 goals short of reaching their goal. I received many email last season to express the gratitude of these teams and conferences after their participation in Regionals. I know personally, that two of these auto-bid teams received a significant increase in funding for their program just because they went to Regionals and lost one game! If we are to grow the ACHA and the quality of the our sport, exposing more members to the excitement of Regionals while not sacrificing the Top 10 rankings, can only be a positive.


Thanks for clarity on the auto bids. I do have a question though, how does the Pac 8 get an auto bid when they only had 7 teams last year and 6 this year?

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How does UNLV get an auto bid when the season isn’t even over. And they are tanking. But they didn’t “plan for having to play in regionals” because they are God’s gift to hockey apparently. So the acha gives them an auto bid? Lame


Is Marian eligible for postseason aren’t they a first year team?

Are you sure about Aurora sheriff? There website clearly lists D2 hockey added to AU for 16’-17’. That would mean a new team. Sure there could’ve been a pr error and made the mistake of not saying Aurora moves to division 2. Aurora University announces plans to add D2 ACHA club men’s hockey for 2016-2017 - Aurora University Athletics

Major issue here is who’s gotta sit. The “new D2 team” or “new D3 team”. Moving a level is completely different and I understand that. However in this case the program in question has added a “new” team. Both teams are highly ranked at both levels and should follow the rules like everyone else.

Also do teams not meeting the number of minimum games still remain eligible for post season play? Any games scored after Feb 11th are not counted. Believe there’s a few teams in the central falling under that currently.

B/S, A/X, S/W, good questions - permit me answer to the best of my ability:

Pac-8 Auto-Bid: The auto-bid was championed for M2 by Mike R. for a number of years prior to his passing last season. He was elated when the board accepted his proposal. Many of us in M2 had a tremendous amount of respect for Mike - he was passionate about the ACHA and in particular, M2. He had several goals for M2 which we discussed on his patio by the pool: 1) he wanted the M2 membership to grow to 200 teams, 2) then expand regionals to 16 teams, 3) provide auto-bids for the conferences and conference commissioners who were the “heart of the ACHA M2”, as he would refer to them, and 4) he wanted to see games streamed on ESPN or FoxSports. I’m proud to have known the man as a friend and ACHA mentor - he would be proud of the accomplishments that unfortunately he could not see to fruition. Anyway, when Mike and I drafted the M2 auto-bid policy, Mike wanted to be fair to the conferences that had been long established in M2 and participated each year in the All-Star Challenge - he wanted to give these conferences time to adjust to the new policy. To that end, MACHA and Pac-8 were given a waiver for the past two seasons, and the Texas Conference would only have one year of probation vice the normal four. Next season, we will have no waivers in effect.

Marian: I am told that Marian, like Williston, paid for last season, and participated in a small number of ACHA games. They were not included in the human ranking committee process last season. We are ensuring this is indeed the fact - thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

Aurora: First year “Member Programs” are on probation for the first year, which prohibits teams from entering the ACHA post season. Member Programs are legally defined as universities, not their individual teams. University teams that move up or down, or are created by existing university programs are not subject to the one year probation.

Minimum number of games: M2 teams must participate in a minimum of 16 ACHA games by the Regional Tournament to qualify for the post season. We are watching several teams closely here. They must also be considered “in good standing”. If a team accepts the invitation to the Regional Tournament, they are committed to the National Tournament as well.

I sincerely appreciate the civility of the dialogue on this blog. We are acutely aware of many coaches and their passion for their programs. Since most decisions produce a zero-sum solution, a perceived gain by one program is another team’s loss. Those of us involved in the ACHA charged with making those decisions are equally passionate about taking the ACHA to the next level. The M2 Commissioner and the Regional Commissioners are among the most professional, patient and considerate folks I’ve ever encountered in our sport - I’m convinced Mike R would be proud of the executive team Jay has assembled. If there is a decision that appears to be detrimental to your program or conference, or benefits another, I would offer the following possible reasons:

  1. Benefits the ACHA as a whole (as I learned in the Naval Service, a rising tide floats all boats).
  2. Agreements with host city, NHL, ESPN, or sponsors as they might have specific requirements to earn their support
  3. I/we make an error in judgment (we attempt to keep these to a minimum, but we are juggling many glass balls with minimal staff). If we make an error, I have no issues with anyone bringing that to our attention. I promise that we will learn from our mistakes, and correct any wrongs, if possible.
  4. Know that sometimes we will have to agree to disagree, and that is also acceptable.

Having said that, we will be as transparent as possible. I do not have a dog in the fight in nearly all decisions - not pulling for any region, conference, or team - I make every attempt to see each issue through the lense of what is best for the ACHA. My priorities are in this order: 1) the 12K member student-athletes, 2) the ACHA, 3) the ACHA divisions, 4) the ACHA teams, 5) the ACHA coaches, 6) the ACHA business (brand promotion/recognition), 7) ACHA business (sponsors).

Hope this helps. Let me know if I’m boring any of you with my long blog posts - I will try to be more brief in the future.


Sheriff, thanks for your thorough responses, I think everyone really does appreciate them. With that said, the lack of transparency leaves me shaking my head.

No where at any point this season was the Pac-8 mentioned as having an autobid. There’s been plenty of talk about the Texas league and the Mountain West all year, but nothing on the Pac-8. While I appreciate the vision of the previous commissioner, this should have been put out in the beginning of the year that an exception to the rule would be put in place and why. Also this absolutely does not conform to the language voted on in the manual that’s been sent out this year. You need to follow your own rules!

The Pac 8 hasn’t had 8 teams for 2 years. No Pac-8 team has beaten a top 15 opponent this year. You have several teams with winning records in the 10-12 range, that in any previous year would have probably made regionals and at least one of them is going to get left out.

I understand that you want to reward conferences, but you’re punishing worthy teams in the process that have done literally whatever it takes to get into regionals, on the ice, in the classroom and outside the classroom working and fundraising in case they get a chance to go to regionals. I know you’re attempting to improve the ACHA as a whole, but it’s things like this that reinforce the gong show, bush league reputation of the ACHA.

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It’s great that the lesser autobid teams were competitive last year, but what happens if they get blown out this year? That’s not a going to look very good. Same as last year, there will be several solid, deserving teams that will get bumped in favor of unranked teams (Pac8, ACCHL, CSCHL, et. al.).

This would be a lot easier to stomach if regionals were already expanded to 16 teams. What’s the timeline for implementing that upgrade?

Does every region have the same number of autobids?

HoW, point taken. While I believe Mike R. made a correct decision regarding the PAC-8 (you and others can disagree, and I certainly respect your opinion), I take full responsibility for the communication failure to the Regional Commissioner and to our membership out west. This waiver should have been communicated last fall at the start of the season and not have come as a surprise to anyone.

However, I take a bit of umbrage with your assessment of the ACHA as a bush league. Here’s why:

  1. With regard to the Regional Tournament and the PAC-8, the #11 and #12 seeds were specifically put into place by expanding the tournament last year to accommodate the auto-bids - NOT to permit a #11 or #12 ranked team into the regionals. That’s why there are play-in games. The fact that there might be a “gift” in the West by permitting a possible #11 is to ensure we have all 12 seeds participating. If you do not want an auto-bid, then we go back to only 10 teams going to the post season.

  2. Rules are written, voted on, and approved within the ACHA process. However, some of these changes have a significant impact on individual conferences or teams. One such rule change was the abolishment of the “drop down senior” rule (where an M1 player finishes his 4-year commitment then drops to M2 or M3 for his 5th year). Jay granted a grandfather clause this season as students were already enrolled and tuition was paid prior to the announcement. Next season, this rule will be in effect. The same with auto-bids. The transition period/waivers will be terminated after this season, and then, as you suggest, we will follow our own rules. Having said that, we receive about 150 requests for waivers (mostly regarding player eligibility). Some of these requests are approved, as per the by-laws waiver request process. My only point is that the rules cannot possibly cover all circumstances, and are not always as binary, zeros and ones.

Again, my apologies for the late notification on PAC-8 - your point is well taken. We will do better on the comms in the future through Commissioner’s Newsletters, this blog, twitter accounts, and the website. I sincerely appreciate your feedback/criticism - it will make the ACHA better.


The problem I see with auto bids is teams can switch to a league just to go to regionals. A perfect example is Rider which is a small school in the MACH division, an competes with much larger schools. They could easily switch to the colonial league? which has similar school size an probably come in first all the time with an auto bid now. I believe regionals should be based on the rankings.

daj, thanks for your input.

To your point specifically - yes, Rider could jump to the Colonial States in an attempt to go for the auto-bid. This has been discussed at lengths in M1 for a number of years. However, I would remind you of several germane points regarding the auto-bid policy.

  1. Team Jumps: Any team switching Conferences within the same Division (M2 in this case) will be prohibited obtaining the Conference auto-bid for 4 years. Therefore, if the team decides to make a jump, most every player on that team will not benefit from the ACHA Regional auto-bid. Rider could make the jump, but would have to wait until 2022 to get the auto-bid in that conference. That rule was placed to reinforce the Conferences and disincentivize teams from jumping. Lastly, you are assuming that the Colonial teams or any other conference would automatically vote to give membership to a team that will run away with the conference title every year - to date I haven’t seen this massive movement to where we would need to build a Trumpian wall.

  2. Computer Rankings: Only teams on the “bubble” would be considering what you have suggested. Here’s why:
    A) Teams consistently in the top 10 would actually be subjectively lowering their rating and therefore their ranking. For example, Rider has a high SoS rating at 89.6. The highest Colonial States team has an 86.7. So given the rough math, Rider would lose 3 rating points and drop significantly in the rankings even if their W-L% were to go up. The computer gives a great deal of preference to the SoS and therefore, strong conferences raise the ranking of every member in that conference, even the worst teams in the conference. Conversely, teams in weaker conferences have their rating/rankings suppressed. Therefore, it would not benefit any team in the top 6-8, a PSU or LU for example, to drop into a weaker conference.
    B) If Rider would swap to the Colonial, their ranking would drop to about ~#15 (+/-1). That would mean that Rider would be essentially trading it’s chances of getting into the post-season by ranking and putting all their chips on winning the Colonial States tournament. M1 Syracuse made the opposite move you are suggesting - they are moving from a weaker M1 conference to a much stronger M1 conference to INCREASE their rating/ranking as their former conference is preventing them from making the National M1 tournament due to the mandatory weak schedule - they are giving up on an “easier” auto-bid, in an effort to make the tournament on their own competitive schedule.
    C) The one aspect of the computer algorithm (for better or worse) placing so much weight on SoS, is that the worst teams in the most competitive conferences get a “bump” in their ratings, while the best teams in the conference see their ratings suppressed. Therefore, it is probable that the best teams in a weak conference are under rated by their rankings, and the weakest teams in a strong conference are overrated in their weekly rankings. This might explain that Rowan, who would face a possible TCNJ in the SE Regional play-in game won by 1 and 2 goals in their two games this season.

  3. Tournament Format: The M2 Regionals are not a “Top 12” team (top two auto-bid to Nationals) tournament. They have always been, and continue to be a “Top 10” team tournament with two additional seeds to accommodate any auto-bids that are not ranked in the top 10. So if we did not have the auto-bids, we would simply go back to the Top 10 format, where #11 and #12 are not included anyway. Just like the M1 National Tournament - it is a 16 team tournament that permits four additional potential auto-bids to earn a play-in game - thus 20 teams. At least in this format, #11 and #12 have a chance if their seeds are not taken by an auto-bid. Last year #11 Michigan (who would not have been in the tournament in prior years) went to Regionals and competed deep into the tournament. The break down this year, appears to be: 1) NE, no unranked auto-bids (GNE does not qualify), therefore top 12, 2) SE, 2 unranked auto-bids (3 if a non-Top 10 MACH team wins their tournament), 3) Central, 0-1 unranked auto-bid, 4) West, 1 unranked auto-bid (PAC-8). So to roll the clock back would be to not permit 5-6 teams ranked #11 or #12 to attend regionals. Again, without auto-bids, #11 and #12 would not attend regionals.

  4. Growth of our Sport and the ACHA: One post recently criticized me for only focusing on the high end, or “money teams”. This is one example where the ACHA is focused on the growth of our sport to conferences and teams that might never have participated in the post season prior. Last year we had 6 auto-bid teams and 2 #11 teams compete in play-in games. In those games, 2 #11 teams beat #10 in their play-in game, Michigan destroying #10. Of the 6 auto-bid non-top 10 teams, 5 lost by 2 goals or less, 2 lost in OT. Only Rutgers (GNE) was beaten 9-2 by a #9 Boston team that game within an OT goal from making the National semi-finals. More impressive, two of those teams that went to ACHA regionals for the first time in their school’s history, received significant increase in university funding and recognition. If we are truly to grow the ACHA into a National phenomenon on university campuses, exposing more teams to Regionals cannot be a bad thing.

  5. Independents: One of the biggest headaches the commissioners have are independent teams (teams not a member of any conference). I don’t want to broad-brush every independent team (for example, FGCU runs an exemplary M2 program from an organizational standpoint), but in general, independent teams tend to create more work for the commissioners. For example, if Rider does not submit an eligibility form, the M2 Commissioner just contacts the MACH commissioner, and the issue is resolved for Rider and ALL MACH teams - if not, the MACH will lose it’s auto-bid privilege. For independents, Jay is tracking down individual coaches or team presidents. With the introduction of the auto-bid to M1, and now M2, there has been a noticeable decrease in independents, as teams are enticed to join a conference.

  6. Trade offs: Most decisions are zero-sum, and in this case the benefit of the auto-bid is offset by the loss of a potentially more competitive team making the post season. However, I would argue most sports post seasons do this identical format - focusing on inclusion over “bubble” teams. NFL, MLB, NCAA basketball, etc. - teams with better records can find themselves on the outside looking in during the post season. The ACHA has also been executing the post season in M2/M3 in an identical manner for many years with the Regional formats. For example, if you look at the National Rankings, you would find that in M2, the Central is the strongest, followed by the SE, then NE, and finally the West. However, we have chosen equal representation from all regions to focus on the growth of the ACHA. If we wish to place teams in the Nationals strictly by rankings, we might chose the top 16 teams in the Nation as does ACHA M1. I’m not advocating for that position, as I believe that the ACHA has struck the proper balance between inclusion and talent in the execution of it’s post-season. However, having said all that, I am only one opinion.

  7. Post-Season expansion: The ACHA is examining the feasibility to expand the regional format to include more teams and/or reduce/eliminate the National auto-bids (all teams would be participating in regionals or just the Regional winner to receive an auto-bid). Would like to hear more feedback from the M2/M3 membership on that issue.

Again, thanks for the question - and hoping I’m not being too lengthy in my responses.


Sounds like a bunch of bs to me

You penalize teams there right to move conferences by imposing a ban.

Well as schools move divisions or programs with in the conference are just turning to shit, plus travel changes, a team should have every right to move. Not sit 4 years.

But if anyone wants to go to regionals just play Lindenwood Bellville (doesn’t matter if you get killed), schedule the rest with weak teams, only play 16 games and enjoy your TOP 10 ranking.

Gotta love my hockey

Agent X,

No Executive Order to ban movement - actually rcvd input on this issue from many gong commissioners. Teams have and always will move to fit their needs/requirements as they see fit. There will be no ban on any movement. A number of teams have already declared new conferences for next season.

In addition, a team can always ask for an appeal for any specific situation.


I’d say good luck with that plan of attack. Is your sole goal just to attend regionals? Most teams who are nationals worthy have been competitive with LU Belleville this year, so if you get killed by them and play a bad schedule otherwise, doubt you’d have what it takes to compete anyway.


Here’s your answer in 1 word


Look up the schedule. Besides LU-B it’s pretty weak.

Also love that #9 Michigan gets destroyed 7-1 by D3 Marquette. But they won’t move much either.

#9 Michigan and #2 Grand Valley had the highest strength of schedule through the fall semester, yes, higher than LU-B. They swept #4 Davenport (who I believe was #2 or #3 that weekend), beat #7 Lindenwood, and have taken care of business all throughout the winter semester with few hiccups. Also, Michigan “destroyed” D3 Marquette 9-1 in the second day of the series you are citing. That is a very capable team. Kids can’t always show up and play their best hockey after a seven hour bus ride. Sorry the system doesn’t always work out in your favor, but the fact of the matter is, the teams that are the best are usually the ones getting into the tournament. By expanding regionals to top 12 (given last 1/2 spots are autobids), instead of top 10 the way it used to be, you foster better competition, and it’s proven in the many reasons that people have cited above.

Can anyone clarify some rules and the general Regional Tournament brackets? First of all, I believe the top 12 teams are going to the post season, but only 10 (3-12) will compete in the Regional Tournament. Secondly, will the “play-in games” be between #12 vs #9 and then #11 vs #10?
Leaving: #3 to play the winner of #11 vs #10
#4 to play the winner of #12 vs #9
#5 vs #8
#6 vs #7?
I’ve seen references to 12 teams advancing to Regionals and “play in” games for #11 vs #12 all referenced above. Just looking for some clarification. Thanks