Nebraska-Omaha head coach Mike Kemp spoke Alaska's hockey luncheon this afternoon, and had some interesting things to say about some future conference realignment.
Incidentally, the Mavericks lost 2-0 to Alaska tonight, and had to wear Fairbanks Ice Dogs jerseys, because United Airways lost their jerseys while rerouting the Mavericks a couple times turning their trip to Fairbanks into a 24-hour journey.
Anyway, Kemp said that Nebraska-Omaha had been approached by the WCHA about the possibility of applying to join the conference, but made it pretty clear that UNO had no interest in switching conferences.
One of the big reasons why is that even though the WCHA may have more traditional hockey powers, Nebraska is football territory and names like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State are going to resonate more with local fans than a school like Denver or North Dakota. Even MAC schools like Western Michigan, Miami, and Bowling Green carry more cachet than some of the D-II football schools in Minnesota.
Kemp did mention the advantage of being able to bus to most games in the WCHA--and I'm sure avoiding the air looked especially tempting after the fiasco getting up to Fairbanks--but also said that the CCHA has been good to UNO, and they have no interest in moving.
So UNO is out in terms of a 12th WCHA team, but Kemp did mention, however, that Northern Michigan has been approached by the WCHA about potentially joining the conference as well. Would they be interested? I'm not sure.
Still, it probably has to be considered a good sign for Bemidji State that the WCHA is at least looking to add a 12th team. Twelve teams would help out with scheduling a little bit, because it would allow the league to use a "cluster" format like the CCHA has the past couple of years. Scheduling with 11 teams would still be workable though. In any case, things this summer could be very interesting as some major changes could be coming.