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Will Weak Attendance Be A Factor In The West Regional?

Via <a href="" target="new">Wikipedia</a>
Via Wikipedia

You have to wonder what the CCHA was thinking when they signed up to host an NCAA men's hockey regional in St. Louis. Consider something as simple as geography.

Miami University is the CCHA's closest program to St. Louis. That's only a 330 mile trip one way, roughly a six hour car trip. So, St. Louis is nowhere close to Oxford, Ohio, or any other CCHA program for that matter. 

The CCHA has also been notorious for not filling up its own Regional when played in its own backyard. Midwest Regionals have been lightly attended in cities like Fort Wayne, Indiana and Grand Rapids, Michigan in recent years, and that's even with programs like Michigan and Miami playing close to home.

While St. Louis isn't really close to any college hockey program, I'm sure this year's West hosts weren't thrilled to hear that Boston College (a small-ish Northeast school), Colorado College (a tiny, private liberal arts school) and Nebraska-Omaha (a college hockey upstart) were all playing in STL. And while Michigan is a program that historically well, its fans are being encouraged not to travel to boycott the ridiculousness of a CCHA hosted, St. Louis regional. 

So unless hockey-crazed Nebraskans (Omahanians?) show up in full force this weekend, a slew of crazed U-M puckheads make the trip from AA, Chicago or other points in the Midwest, or the St. Louis Blues give away tickets to all its season ticket holders, it's unlikely that this year's West Regional is going to set any sort of NCAA Regional attendance records.

For BC, that's probably a good thing. Maybe even a very good thing. I know Superfans were bummed that the Eagles didn't find themselves playing closer to home in the Northeast Regional, but consider the alternatives.

The Northeast Regional features second-seeded Merrimack and fourth-seeded UNH from Hockey East. UNH is playing 37 miles from campus in Manchester. Merrimack is even closer to Manchester, a quick 53 minute trip up I-93. Union is only 153 miles away from Bridgeport. Even the Midwest Regional's Western Michigan is playing closer to home than any team in this year's West Regional.

Not playing closer to home might work in BC's favor considering the lack of a home ice edge that STL afford all four teams in the Regional. The same certainly can't be said for the other three regionals this year.

Travel distances to this year's NCAA Regionals after the jump. 

Regional Avg. Miles Min Max
Northeast 494.5 35 954
West 743.5 439 1,174
Midwest 769.8 347 1,119
East 847.0 20 1,897

Program Regional Miles to Regional
(1) Yale East 20
(2) Merrimack Northeast 35
(4) New Hampshire Northeast 37
(2) Union East 153
(3) Western Michigan Midwest 347
(3) Nebraska-Omaha West 439
(2) Michigan West 540
(1) North Dakota Midwest 590
(4) Colorado College West 821
(1) Miami Northeast 952
(3) Notre Dame Northeast 954
(4) RPI Midwest 1,023
(2) Denver Midwest 1,119
(1) Boston College West 1,174
(3) Minnesota-Duluth East 1,316
(4) Air Force East 1,897