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WHCA: Two division format doesn't address all issues

07/13/2017, 8:15pm CDT
By Noah Fish, LaCrosse Tribune

One vs. two division set-up has been debated for 20 years

Slideshow photo by Nate Beier

Since the WIAA began sponsoring a state tournament in 1971, Wisconsin boys high school hockey has been comprised of one division.

For the past two decades, however, staff and supporters of smaller programs have petitioned the WIAA to change that format in hopes of allowing more teams to reach the state tournament and take in the overall experience.

The WIAA recently acknowledged those pleas in the form of an amended recommendation, committing to a two-division, eight-team state tournament format for the 2019-2020 season.

Paired with the news to implement a 35-second shot clock in basketball and changes in state tournament seeding procedures, the WIAA announced the modification of the boys hockey divisions in a press release that summarized its June meeting.

The Board of Control voted 9-1 in favor of the two-division format that will run for two seasons on a trial basis before being re-evaluated. Under the new format, Division 2 will consist of the 32 programs with the smallest combined enrollment, and the remaining teams (currently 55) will play in Division 1.

What seemed like a progressive decision by the WIAA to split boys hockey into two divisions was met with some dissatisfaction from the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Association. The WHCA discussed and presented a proposal to the WIAA, which then made amendments to it before approving its version.

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