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Last CCHA tourney down to final four

The Miami Redhawks defeat the Bowling Green Falcons 3-1, Saturday, January 26, 2013, at the Steve Cady Ice Arena.
The Miami Redhawks defeat the Bowling Green Falcons 3-1, Saturday, January 26, 2013, at the Steve Cady Ice Arena.

Credit: Robert Leifheit

Credit: Robert Leifheit

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association is down to its final few breaths.

Disbanding after its 42nd season, the CCHA is hosting its final championship weekend at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Miami University will play Michigan (4:35 p.m.) and Notre Dame will meet Ohio State (1:05 p.m.) in Saturday’s semifinals, and the final is set for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday.

“I think it’s special that we’re one of the four teams there,” RedHawks coach Enrico Blasi said. “It’s sad that it has to go, but there’s always change in the world, and you’ve got to accept that and move on. Whether people like it or not, it’s the business of college athletics now. Hockey is no different than some of the other sports that are moving around.”

With Penn State announcing plans in 2010 to transition its hockey program to Division I status, the CCHA started to break apart two years ago when the Big Ten Conference declared that it was adding hockey as a conference sport in 2013-14. That meant OSU, Michigan and Michigan State were leaving the CCHA.

In July, 2011, Miami decided to become a charter member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Western Michigan soon joined MU.

Northern Michigan, Alaska, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Bowling Green then moved to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and Notre Dame chose the Hockey East Association.

Good-bye, CCHA.

“Everybody wants to try to pin it on us,” Blasi said. “But I think what we did was most important for Miami University, and that was find a home that we feel comfortable with. Honest to God, if it wasn’t for the Big Ten and Penn State coming in, the CCHA would still be there. It wasn’t us that went first. It was Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State. That’s the truth.”

Quick hitters: Miami has won 10 of its last 12 CCHA tournament games, but has never beaten Michigan in this event. The Wolverines are 5-0, winning once in 1991-92, twice in 1995-96, once in 2007-08 and once in 2009-10.

With the RedHawks and Michigan heading to different leagues next year, it could be a while before they play again. “We’d like to,” Blasi said. “We think it’s become a pretty good rivalry. But right now it’s just not fitting in the schedule for either team.”

The Wolverines are giving up 3.3 goals per game. They’ve allowed three or more goals 26 times this season.

Records of the four semifinalists: Miami 24-10-5, Michigan 17-18-3, Notre Dame 23-12-3, Ohio State 16-16-7.