The WCHA announced Tuesday it will change to a new on-campus men's hockey playoff format beginning next season.
The "WCHA Playoffs" will feature four best-of-three quarterfinal series hosted by the conference's top four regular-season finishers, followed by two best-of-three semifinal series on the campus of the highest remaining seeds. The "WCHA Championship" will be a single game hosted by the highest seed.
"We wanted an atmosphere where the fans would be excited and for [the student-athletes] to play in front of larger crowds," WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said. "We thought this would be a great step for the WCHA and revolutionary for us and for college hockey at the Division 1 level."
The new format, Robertson added, would give the conference a better chance "to be successful from a financial perspective."
The move ends a 28-year tradition of hosting the conference tournament semifinals and championship game at a neutral site, mostly in the Twin Cities.
The WCHA Final Five matured into the most-attended college hockey tournament in the country at Xcel Energy Center, but has struggled to fill seats at various locations after the sport's 2014 major realignment.
In 2013, the final year before the WCHA was broken up, the tournament drew 87,295 fans for an average attendance of 17,459 per game at Xcel.
The tournament shifted to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2014 and sold just 11,162 tickets over three sessions. It rotated back to Xcel Energy Center in 2015, but without its old rivalries drew just 15,048 over two sessions. Attendance was an issue again in Grand Rapids in 2016.
Xcel Energy Center was scheduled to host the tournament in 2017, but Robertson said the two sides made a "healthy break." He declined to comment on specifics.
North Dakota beat the Gophers in the last WCHA on-campus title game played in Grand Forks, N.D., in 1987.