By: CHRIS ZADOROZNY, SPORTS EDITOR
With just a week left in the regular season, the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Tournament is taking shape. The Adrian Bulldogs are in the top spot, and have held it for the majority of the year.
Out of the same league as the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolves, the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL), the Bulldogs are all but guaranteed a spot in the ACHA Tourney. This year, it will be hosted by the Robert Morris-Illinois Eagles.
The Eagles will get an automatic bid to the tournament, even while being ranked fourth. The Top 15 teams are almost guaranteed a spot in the tournament, and other teams will get automatic bids because of winning their conference.
In the ACHA, there are six leagues, and 10 independent teams. Among the leagues, College Hockey Mid-America (CHMA); Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL), the former league of the Wolves; Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA); Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL); the GLCHL and the Northeast Collegiate Hockey League (NECHL).
In the CHMA, the teams include Mercyhurst University, John Carroll University, Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, Robert Morris University (PA), Slippery Rock University, and Youngstown State University, in that order of standings.
In the CSCHL, the former league of the Wolves the standings are as followed: Robert Morris University (IL), Ohio University, University of Illinois, Iowa State University, Lindenwood University, and Indiana University.
The ECHA includes, the United States Naval Academy, Lebanon Valley College, Towson University, Drexel University, Lehigh University, Villanova University, Penn State University-Berks, and the University of Scranton as the current standings.
The ESCHL is small, only consisting of five teams. Those teams include, in the current standings, the University of Delaware, the University of Rhode Island, Stony Brook University, Rutgers University, and West Chester University.
In the Wolves’ league, the GLCHL, Adrian College, Davenport University, UM-D, Oakland University, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, and Kent State University.
Finally, in the NECHL, the University of Buffalo owns the top spot, followed by Niagara University, Syracuse University, Oswego State University, Ithaca College, Binghamton University, Saint Bonaventure University, the State University of New York College at Cortland, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Cornell University.
Among the independents, Arizona State University, Minot State University, Liberty University, University of Oklahoma, Canisius College, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Arizona, University of Rochester, North Dakota State University, and Washington & Jefferson College.
Behind Adrian in first, is Arizona State, Minot State, Robert Morris (IL), and Ohio are the first five teams ranked. In rankings 6-10, Oklahoma, Lindenwood, Davenport, Illinois, and Liberty.
Rankings 11-15 include Oakland, Delaware, Navy, Iowa State and Stony Brook. Rankings 16-20 include Central Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Arizona, Rutgers, and Niagara.
Finally, in rankings 21-25, Lebanon Valley, Buffalo, West Chester, UM-D, and Syracuse.
Among the teams that are guaranteed to make it as of February 5, 2013 as automatic bids for winning their conference: Mercyhurst (CHMA NR), Robert Morris (IL, also as hosts, CSCHL #4), Navy (ECHA #14), Delaware (ESCHL #12), Adrian (GLCHL #1), and Buffalo (NECHL #22).
That would kick out Niagara, as 20 teams make Nationals, and since Mercyhurst isn’t ranked and guaranteed an automatic bid, sitting at 20, Niagara would be the odd team out.
As for UM-D, they need to win their final three games, and need a lot of help from other teams to lose. They would need to jump six, seven, maybe eight spots in the final rankings to make Nationals.