In an already busy summer for college hockey, CCHA coaches and athletic directors felt it was time for even more change in a recent six-day convention held in Naples, Fla.

No longer will CCHA teams be fighting for their playoff lives at the end of the 28-game conference schedule. The committee approved a move from the current 10-team tournament field to allow all 12 teams to qualify for postseason play, starting in the 2001-02 season.

But while there were a few naysayers among the coaches, most notably Michigan coach Red Berenson, it was agreed upon that the implementation will increase excitement to a league battling with parity.

“The excitement at the end of the year will still exist because teams are fighting for home ice, better seed and some are battling for RPI and NCAA positions,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said.

Daniels cited a unanimous reason for the change “the Tuesday play-in game was becoming inoperable logistically-speaking.”

In the former format, the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds had to play a game on Tuesday in order to advance to Joe Louis that Friday, causing travel problems for many teams.

Although the move gives the top two teams an even bigger advantage playing the two lowest seeds and then receiving a bye in the second round there will now be six teams hosting a first round game, and six advancing to Joe Louis Arena, making it much more of a league event instead of the usual Michigan-Michigan State showdown.

“I like the idea of each year having six teams host,” said Daniels. “With a lot of great teams in this league, to have only four teams host is kind of a shame.”

Seein” green: While not in favor of the playoff change, Berenson was very much in favor of the newly set rivalry-parings to be implemented in the 2002-03 season. Michigan will have a rivalry pairing with Michigan State allowing them to face off at least four times a season for five years. The Wolverines were 1-4 against Michigan State this past season and both advanced to the Frozen Four.

“Both (Michigan State coach Ron) Mason and I agreed it would be better for the league and the fans to put ourselves on the line more often,” Berenson said. “At least we”re playing our archrivals four times. It will be good for us, the fans and the league.”

The two legendary coaches have also been tinkering with the idea of having one of the games being played in Spartan Stadium next season, a thought that still needs to be mulled over before a decision is made.

Pipe dreams: Jason Bacashishua, Michigan”s highly-heralded goalie recruit and heir-apparent to Josh Blackburn, may not be donning the maize and blue as planned this coming Fall. Although Bacashishua, 18, wants to be a Wolverine, he may be academically ineligible, which won”t be discovered until his final grades and test scores are posted in late June.

The Plymouth Whalers star and Dearborn Heights native could decide to play another year of junior hockey and forego his college eligibility by jumping to major juniors and enter the NHL Entry Draft.

But Berenson said he feels Bacashishua still wants to come to Michigan, barring any grade problems, and is the type of kid attitude wise that he wants in a Wolverine uniform.

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