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The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference retained its playoff format and celebrated a financially sound inaugural year at its meetings in Florida over the weekend.
The Colorado Springs-based nonprofit league generated enough revenue to expect a surplus when the financial year ends Aug. 31, conference treasurer and Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph said. Specific numbers were not available, but that did little to diminish Ralph's enthusiasm.
"We have to remember this is only Year 1 and we will have a surplus," he said. "We accomplished that being wise with our expenditures, which shows great leadership from the league office. It feels fantastic."
The NCHC will set the extra money aside to cover any future shortfalls, Ralph said.
The bulk of the revenue came from a successful first round of the playoffs, boosted by Game 3s at Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota, and a profitable two-day Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center in Minneapolis despite the absence of the two in-state schools; Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State.
The league's voters - athletic directors, coaches and faculty representatives - kept the playoff format after weighing options outlined by commissioner Josh Fenton.
The bracket has all eight teams play in a best-of-three first- round series with the four winners playing single-elimination games for the postseason championship and the league's automatic NCAA berth.
"It went really well," Ralph said of the meetings. "Josh came in very well prepared and the amount of information he provided was staggering.
"We had a lot of success with (the current) format and we needed to give it some more time. The success of the Frozen Faceoff is already paying dividends."
Fenton said the fan experience will improve and the tournament will become more attractive as more of the planned $100 million in renovations are phased in over the next three years.
"The (arena) staff has been unbelievable; bending over backward as we go through everything the first time," Fenton said. "The effort of the Target Center staff, coupled with the effort of our staff, will make for a great event."