UPDATE: (11 a.m. Thursday) Colorado College is scheduled to take a charter flight out of Colorado Springs Airport late Thursday afternoon. If that happens, the series will begin on time.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is still hopeful the weekend quarterfinal series between No. 3 seed Western Michigan and No. 6 seed Colorado College in Kalamazoo, Mich., will proceed as scheduled, and is doing what it can to make that a reality.
But if it can’t, due to an intense blizzard rolling across Colorado and the central United States, the league will make do.
The Tigers were set to fly out of Denver on Wednesday afternoon, but all runways were closed and more than 1,000 flights were canceled. The flight was, luckily, cancelled before they left the Springs.
With a glut of travelers scrambling for flights Thursday and Friday, flying so many people commercial would be tricky, per NCHC director of communications Michael Weisman. The league is considering booking a charter flight to get them to Kalamazoo, he said, though nothing is official.
If the Tigers can’t fly in until Friday, it would be a tall order to make them play that night. The “worst-case” scenario, Weisman said, is that the series would be pushed back a day, and run Saturday and Sunday with a deciding Monday Game 3 if needed.
No matter what, a winner must be produced before next weekend’s Frozen Faceoff in St. Paul, Minn.
The league hasn’t had to deal with a playoff postponement before, though it has plenty of experience with weather-related issues this season. Colorado College was involved with one such event, as Denver couldn’t make it down through weather-snarled traffic for a January game. Just last weekend, Omaha had to spend the night in the basement of Ralph Engelstad Arena in North Dakota after a winter storm delayed their departure.
No matter what happens, the Tigers’ ideal weekend schedule is out the window. Coming off a 4-2 finish and an emotional series-clinching shutout of rival Denver, they’ll now have to weather this disruption in order to advance to their first Frozen Faceoff.