Teams in Miami’s new hockey conference strong this season

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference won’t begin play until next season, but six of its eight schools are ranked right now.

Leading the way is Miami University, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champion. The RedHawks (22-9-5), who host Michigan State in the CCHA tournament’s second round this weekend, are ranked third in the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

Here’s a look at how the other seven future NCHC teams are doing this year:

Colorado College — The Tigers are 14-17-5 and unranked. They’ll begin Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament play at Denver this weekend.

Denver — The Pioneers, directed by former Miami coach George Gwozdecky, are 19-11-5. They’re ranked 10th by USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine and 11th by USCHO.com, and will be at home against Colorado College in the WCHA playoffs this weekend.

Minnesota Duluth —The Bulldogs are 14-17-5 and unranked. They’ll be at Wisconsin this weekend for WCHA tourney action.

Nebraska Omaha — The Mavericks are 18-16-2 and ranked 20th by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. They’ll travel to Minnesota State this weekend for a WCHA tournament series.

North Dakota — The former Fighting Sioux (state law prohibits the university from adopting a new team name until 2015) are 19-10-7 and ranked fourth by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. They’ll host Michigan Tech in WCHA tourney play this weekend.

St. Cloud State — The Huskies are 21-14-1 and ranked eighth by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. They’ll host Alaska Anchorage in the WCHA playoffs this weekend.

Western Michigan — The Broncos are 19-9-8 and ranked ninth by USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine. They’ll be at home against Michigan this weekend for a second-round CCHA series.

Swimming

Miami senior Bekka Westrick of Fairfield will be competing at the NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships in Indianapolis next week.

On Thursday, Westrick will swim in the 50 freestyle, and her time of 22.41 seconds ranks 33rd. On Friday, she’ll swim in the 100 butterfly, and her time of 52.91 seconds ranks 37th. On Saturday, she’ll be in the 100 free, where her time of 49.93 seconds ranks 69th.

Softball

Miami is just 2-13 in Clarisa Crowell’s first season at the helm, but junior catcher Kayla Ledbetter is off to a fast start. She’s hitting .342 with two doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs, and none of the regulars are close to her in slugging percentage (.632) or on-base percentage (.537).

The RedHawks face Southern Utah and San Diego State in San Diego, Calif., tonight, then compete in the three-day San Diego Classic II.

MU will begin play at home March 26 with a doubleheader against Morehead State.

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