Puck Drop
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After 70 years filled with memories for hockey fans across the upper Midwest, the WCHA men's league officially ceased operations this week.

The WCHA women's league, which includes the Gophers and St. Thomas, will continue and remains arguably the strongest conference in women's college hockey.

But the WCHA men's league, which had 10 members two seasons ago, went through an exodus, with seven teams bolting to form a newly revived CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Association): Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State Mankato and Northern Michigan.

The CCHA will drop the puck this season, with St. Thomas joining to make it an eight-team league.

As for the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association), two other teams, Alabama-Huntsville and Alaska Anchorage have suspended hockey operations. Alaska (Fairbanks) did not play last season because of the pandemic and will return to play this season as an independent.

But the McNaughton Cup, handed to every WCHA men's regular season champion since 1951, won't be on the line for anyone. North Dakota won 15 times, the Gophers 14 and Denver 12 before those teams left the conference. Minnesota State Mankato won the Cup each of the past three seasons.

"I am honored and grateful to have had the special opportunity to lead the WCHA these past seven-plus years," Bill Robertson, the WCHA men's commissioner since 2014, said in a statement. "I consider my time with college hockey's oldest and most distinguished conference one of the highlights of my sports career."