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Shrunken WCHA invites similarly depleted CCHA to combine for 2013 @NHL

MINNEAPOLIS - The conference realignment chaos has been busy hitting college hockey, too.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association said Thursday it has invited five new teams from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association to join in two years — when the shuffling takes place and the Big Ten starts its hockey league. The formal invitation emerged from a meeting earlier this week in Chicago between WCHA and CCHA leaders over the future of their leagues, with revenue projections a critical piece of the discussion.

Current CCHA members Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State will join WCHA programs Minnesota and Wisconsin plus Penn State in the Big Ten for the 2013-14 season.

The new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will also begin that season with Miami (Ohio) of the CCHA and five current WCHA teams: Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha.

That will leave the WCHA with Alaska Anchorage, Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State (Mankato), Northern Michigan and St. Cloud State. The presidents of those six remaining member universities recommended inviting the rest of the CCHA teams: Alaska Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Western Michigan.

The CCHA schools have 30 days to decide.

Another CCHA team, Notre Dame, is also looking for home, but the Fighting Irish are expected to either join the NCHC or move to Hockey East.

That means at least 18 of the 58 teams currently playing NCAA Division I hockey -- 31 per cent -- will change conferences by 2013.

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