Let's start with the good news. The Western Michigan Broncos hockey team goes into this season as the No. 18 ranked team in the nation. Taking into account how many players lost to graduation and to the NHL, it's a good sign for things to come and a thumbs up to the incoming freshman class. The other good news is, it sure looks like there will be a season, starting in early December.

The new freshmen are goalie Alexandros Aslanidis from Morristown, N.J.; forward Trevor Bishop from Rochester Hills; D-man Aidan Fulp from Indianapolis; forward Chad Hillebrand, a native of Park Ridge, Ill; defenseman Daniel Hilsendager from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan; defenseman Cédric Fiedler, a native of Zug, Switzerland; and forwards Ty Glover from London, Ontario, Luke Grainger from Montreal, Hugh Larkin from Livonia, and Jarred White from Edmonton.

Those freshmen have big skates to fill, those of graduating seniors Wade Allison (signed by Philadelphia), Luke Bafia (ECHL's Kansas City Mavericks), Lawton Courtnall, Dawson DiPietro (signed with Buffalo), Cam Lee (signed with Pittsburgh), and Hugh McGing (St. Louis). Sophomore defenseman Mattias Samuelson signed a three year deal with the Buffalo Sabres.

The other big news is how the NCHC is planning on having a season. The Broncos and the rest of the NCHC are headed for Omaha, and the season will start in a "pod", a centralized location (similar to the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs this year), which will limit outside contact, make Covid testing easier (the University of Nebraska Medical Center is located there) and will see games during the week and not just on Friday and Saturdays, as is the format during normal years. Some of the participating schools' semesters are over by December, while others are doing remote learning anyway. The second half of the season begin with the start of the new year, and will be closer to the traditional home and away format.

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