While the rest of the world indulges in March Madness in the NCAA Men's and Women's Division I Basketball Championships, there are in fact other collegiate athletics going on. While I knew that the Western Michigan University Broncos ice hockey team was having some success this year, I wasn't following the sports scores closely -- partly due to The Grand Rapids Press' decision to only do home delivery three days a week. So I was very pleasantly surprised to see the following announcement in the WMU Today e-mail newsletter:
Point of pride--For the first time since 1986, the hockey Broncos won the CCHA Tournament Championship, defeating Michigan, 3-2, Saturday at Joe Louis Arena. They will play North Dakota in the NCAA Tournament West Region semifinals Saturday in St. Paul, Minn.
KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's hockey team makes its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and second in a row as it heads to St. Paul, Minn., to battle the University of North Dakota Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Broncos earned a No. 4 seed after winning the CCHA Tournament Championship with a 3-2 victory over the University of Michigan Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
In previous matches with North Dakota, WMU is 0-4, but the two teams have not meet since two games each in Kalamazoo in 1997 and at North Dakota in 1998—and in 1997, North Dakota won the national championship.
The game will be carried live via ESPN3.com and replayed on ESPNU Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The game is available for syndication in local markets, and WMU News will be updated if the broadcast is picked up in the Kalamazoo area. Live radio coverage will be provided by the Bronco Radio Network on 96.5 FM WKZO and at wkzo.com.
The Broncos enter the tournament on a five-game winning streak, with all five wins against teams that qualified for the tournament.
WMU is 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including two losses to Harvard in a best-of-three series in 1986. The Broncos fell to Denver, 3-2, in double-overtime at last season's Midwest regional.
Five CCHA teams made the 16-team field, the most from any conference. WMU joins Ferris State, Miami, Michigan State and Michigan representing the CCHA
When we were up at Michigan Tech, we went to a lot of hockey games. Alas, the Huskies were not in their glory years in the late 80s and early 90s. And the CCHA league tended to overwhelm the WCHA, which Tech played in. We frequently lost to Michigan or Michigan State in the over-Christmas tournament held in Detroit. So Western beating Michigan and taking the CCHA crown is a big deal. Well done, gentlemen.
Now go beat up on North Dakota and take the ice all the way to the national championship.