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Original Issue

A League Apart

Wanted: A conference that will adopt college hockey's Southern outpost

Last Friday nightAlabama-Huntsville lost 2--1 at home to Western Michigan in front of 3,873fans, the fourth-largest home crowd in College Hockey America conferencehistory. If Chargers fans want to set the attendance record, they have just 10games to do it. The four-team CHA is disbanding after this season, its 10th,because UAH's conference rivals are jumping to larger leagues. Last year's NCAAchampion, Bemidji State, is going to the Western College Hockey Association.Niagara and Robert Morris are headed to Atlantic Hockey.

UAH? In August theChargers applied for membership in the Central Collegiate Hockey Associationbut were rejected, making them the only Division I hockey team without aconference for next year. The program, which was founded in 1979, has long heldits status as the sole D-I hockey team below the Mason-Dixon Line as a point ofpride. But now the school's unique location makes it an undesirable conferencemate. "In today's economy, travel has really moved up the ladder as aconcern," CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos says. "[That was] veryprevalent in the discussion [with UAH]."

The UAH program ismore than a geographical novelty: The Chargers won the CHA title in 2007, andon Oct. 9 they upset No. 5 Notre Dame in South Bend. (They were 3--3 throughSunday.) The school has already lined up 26 games as an independent for2010--11 (opponents include Michigan State and Wisconsin) and is confident itcan fill out a full schedule—especially if the NCAA tweaks its rules to makegames against UAH exempt from the 34-game season limit. Schools in Alaska andHawaii already have such exemptions, allowing teams to slip extrarevenue-producing home dates into their schedules. "We aren't going tothrow away everything we've built over 30 years here just because we're not ina league," says UAH athletic director Jim Harris. "We owe it not onlyto the institution but also the fans and the student-athletes to at least giveit a shot."


An assistant high school football coach in Florida wascharged with assault after allegedly brandishing a pocket knife at a player andwarning, "Don't try me today."




LOST BOYS After the CHA folds, goalie Cameron Talbot & Co. will be independent.