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“Mystery Alaska” playoff plan revealed by WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod [UPDATED]

June 15, 2012 - Matt Wellens

Note: See update below concerning correction of information provided by the league office.

MARQUETTE — WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod confirmed Friday evening via phone in Minneapolis what I’ll dub the “Alaska Plan” for the league playoffs starting with the 2013-14 season.

In the WCHA’s nine-team playoff format that was announced Thursday, the Alaska Nanooks and Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will meet every year in the first round in a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the WCHA’s Final Five.

The only way that doesn’t happen is if the Nanooks or Seawolves win the WCHA regular season championship. Then the other Alaska school would host or travel to the lower 48 states, depending on where it finishes in the league standings with seeds 2-5 hosting seeds 6-9 in a best-of-three series.

No matter what, the MacNaughton Cup will earn a team an automatic spot in the WCHA Final Five semifinals.

“There was definitely an uneasy feeling about it,” McLeod said. “Certainly something out of the box, out of the norm, I would say. There was just an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.”

McLeod said the decision was made based on financial concerns the league had with possibly sending two teams to Alaska in a moment’s notice or the league playoffs.

While the “Alaska Plan” was approved by the league, McLeod said there are other proposals on the table from the athletic directors. The league will be revisiting the plan, possibly as soon as next week during a conference call among the ADs.

“It’s not set in stone. Although it was voted upon and passed, there were a couple other scenarios that were definitely talked about. I’m not quite sure,” McLeod said.

“It was already revisited after we passed it. There are some other plans on the table people want to go over and do some additional homework on and see if there is enough momentum to bring some other things to the table.”

McLeod was not willing to speculate and discuss the possible alternative plans at this time.

UPDATE: Information provided by WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod may not have been accurate concerning the league playoff structure. According to a source, Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage would receive a first-round bye if either wins the WCHA regular season title. McLeod told The Mining Journal otherwise, that both will meet in the first round no matter what and that the next highest seed not from Alaska would receive a bye. Here is how McLeod explained it:

McLeod: "Let's just say Anchorage and Fairbanks are 1 and 2. Well they're going to play. You know what I mean? So who gets the bye? We got to take a closer look at it. Right now, it would be No. 3. You know what I mean?"

The source asked not to be named because the league told all coaches, athletic directors and presidents to let the league office handle inquiries.



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