We mentioned back on March 14 how the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers had broken in to the NCAA tournament field in controversial fashion by winning the College Hockey America tournament. SB Nation's Derek Zona argues at From The Rink why you should root for the Chargers once the tournament kicks off this weekend.
College Hockey America will cease to exist after this season, as membership has been dwindling since the conference was founded. Robert Morris and Niagara will join Atlantic Hockey and Bemidji State will join the WCHA. The NCAA granted the CHA a special automatic bid during this transition year and the Chargers made the most of it. Prior to the season, Huntsville made a formal request and application to join the CCHA, a move that was denied by the CCHA Council on August 11, 2009.
The CCHA's decision has left the Alabama-Huntsville program high and dry, the only independent hockey team in the NCAA. Operating independently over the long haul isn't a possibility and that has put the future of the Alabama-Huntsville Men's ice hockey program in jeopardy. Their fans have rallied in the hopes that the Chargers will find a new conference and those efforts have spawned a Facebook page "Save UAH Hockey" with 4,389 fans as of this writing.
That Alabama-Hunstville got into the tournament while keep two CCHA teams out should bring a smile to the face of Charger fans and hockey fans in general. Though it's a longshot, I'll be rooting for a couple of upsets next weekend, especially in the first round - as the Chargers drew the Redhawks of Miami, the best team in the CCHA and the number one team in the country. Knocking off Miami would be an amazing feat for the last champion of the CHA, but even better than that - should the impossible actually happen, their second round opponent is either Bemidji State or CCHA member Michigan.