What WCHL Looks Like Before Big Missouri State Clash With UCO | Sports



This weekend, the Missouri State Ice Bears face the Central Oklahoma Broncos in one of the first matches that will help determine the Western Collegiate Hockey League champion.

MSU and UCO enter the game unbeaten, but the Broncos faced several ranked opponents.

Several league teams could make their way to the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s national tournament in March. Here’s a look at the nine unnamed Missouri State league teams.

The East Division: State of Missouri, Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma, State of Colorado and Colorado

No. 7 Central Oklahoma (9-0, 6-0 in WCHL)

The UCO Broncos are normally in the race for the WCHL title, but haven’t won the league since 2017-18. The Broncos lead the standings with six wins, including two wins last weekend over the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. UNLV was chosen to finish first in the WCHL Coaching Survey. Forward Vitalii Mikhailov leads the Broncos with 16 goals and five assists in nine games.

The Broncos also control their own destiny in the league race after defeating UNLV and Arizona State. Missouri state head coach Jeremy Law said he believes the state of Missouri will have to beat the UCO to have a chance at winning the league.

“UCO is doing well right now,” Law said. “We will have to be ready. I think it’s going to be between us and UCO for WCHL East. It will be the biggest games of the year for us.

Oklahoma (3-3-1, 0-1-1 in WCHL)

The Sooners had a slow start to the season, dividing a streak with the Division III Arkansas team. They then lost a game to Central Oklahoma that didn’t count for the WCHL, beat Waldorf University and lost two games to Colorado State.

Forward Marshall Rushing leads the team with six goals and five assists in seven games.

Missouri State will face the Sooners four times. The Ice Bears will go to Norman for two games on November 5 and 6, and the Sooners will return the favor on January 21 and 22.

Colorado State (2-4, 2-4-0 in WCHL)

The Rams started their season with a four-game losing streak, losing two games to Missouri State and then two to Arizona. They rebounded with a two-game sweep from Oklahoma, who was ranked No.25 at the time they played.

The organization experienced a coaching change just before the start of the school year, with Camden Lambert taking over. Lambert spent time as an assistant coach with the University of Jamestown, another CAHA Division I team.

Missouri State has two games to go against CSU. They will be in Springfield on November 12 and 13.

Colorado (2-5, 0-1-1 in WCHL)

The Buffaloes have already tied their winning tally of the 2019-20 season, where they have won two games. Their first victory this season was against the Division II team Metropolitan State University Denver, the other against Utah. They also managed to play a close game with Iowa State, losing 5-2. The Cyclones are in the top 5 in Division I at the time of publication.

Missouri State has four games to go against Colorado. Two will be in Springfield on January 14 and 15 and two in Boulder on February 18 and 19.

West Division: UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Grand Canyon

10th University of Nevada Las Vegas (4-2, 2-2 in WCHL)

The Rebels are one of the new teams in the WCHL and were chosen to finish first in the coaches poll. Apart from two losses to Central Oklahoma last weekend, the Rebels have beaten Illinois twice and Utah twice.

Forward Max Johnson leads the scoring with four goals and five assists.

Missouri State will play at UNLV on October 29 and 30.

19th Arizona (3-4, 3-4 in WCHL)

Arizona enters the year as the defending league champion, winning the 2019-20 title. Goalkeeper Anthony Ciurro, one of the league’s top goaltenders for the 2019-20 season, returns for the Wildcats.

Arizona have lost just three league games in their 19-20 championship, but have already lost four this year. The Wildcats have lost two games to Utah, one to Arizona State and one to the Grand Canyon.

The Ice Bears will not play Arizona in the regular season.

Utah (3-2-1, 2-1-1 in WCHL)

The Utes were another of the additions to the league. They beat Arizona twice to start the season, lost two games to UNLV and split a streak with Colorado.

Forward Alexander King leads the Utes with three goals and two assists in six games.

The State of Missouri will not play Utah in the regular season.

Arizona State No.24 (1-3, 1-3 in WCHL)

The Sun Devils had a tough game in their first two games, facing a UCO team that was 6-0 at Tempe. ASU played closely in Game 2 with the Broncos after losing Game 1 6-2.

The Sun Devils followed those games by dividing a series with Arizona. Forward Brendan Studioso is back with the squad after a successful 2019-20 season. He currently has two points.

Missouri State will not play Arizona State in the regular season.

Grand Canyon (2-4, 1-2 in WCHL)

The Antelopes were on the losing side of a 23-goal weekend by the Ice Bears in early October. Missouri State won the first game 15-2 and the next 8-3. Missouri State sat its entire front row for the second contest.

The Grand Canyon bounced back by claiming a victory in a midweek contest with Arizona on October 16.

The Grand Canyon was the only Western Division team to come to Springfield. The Ice Bears won’t see them again in the regular season.

What the winner gets

Whoever wins the WCHL will get an automatic entry into the ACHA National Tournament in March. It will go to the team that won the regular season championship as there is no league tournament. For up-to-date league rankings, follow the WCHL Twitter account, @WesternCHL.

Follow Stephen Terrill on Twitter, @ stevethe2nd

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