Last night, Notre Dame Academy (in just about everyone's opinion, the best team in the state) beat Manitowoc (probably the worst team in the state) by a score of 26-0. You read that right. NDA outshot Manitowoc by a count of 112-3. Again, you read that right. Notre Dame led 17-0 after the first period.
Wisconsin Prep Hockey has shots at 87-3, but still ... that's with a running clock after 7-0 (which was hit just 4:17 into the game) and the game shortened (stats show only 45 minutes of playing time). Manitowoc took a 5-minute major about 3 minutes into the 1st, NDA proceeded to score 7 times on the ensuing PP.
There is absolutely no reason for this game to be played, other than them being in the same conference. Neither team gets anything out of this game. It does nothing for Notre Dame (except maybe inflate their heads) and it does nothing for Manitowoc but humiliate them. In Manitowoc's case, they'd probably just be better off scheduling an independent schedule of the bottom 1/3 teams around the state. That said though, they might have trouble getting games. If nothing else, I guess being in a conference at least guarantees games, even if they end up like this.
While at some point Manitowoc is going to have to play good teams, you're right in that neither team got anything out of this - other than ND being able to parade the score sheet around for years to come.
As far as conference affiliation, the only other option for Manitowoc would have been to find a way to partner with the Badgerland (Beaver Dam, Waupun, Springs) - though they'd still have to run into an Appleton and a Fondy there. It would surely have been better than their first 4 games so far (DePere, Notre Dame, Green Bay, Ashwaubenon) where they've been outscored 69-1 so far (and outshot 288-19). Still, there's only 90 schools playing boys hockey in WI this year; only about 11 of them are independents (Superior is an independent in WI hockey, they're allied with a MN conference). The "closest" independents are Shawano and Pacelli, and then it's over to Chequamegon/Phillips. Without a conference affiliation, there's not many teams available to schedule against unless you're going to play JV teams to start off - and most of the "weak" varsity teams that might be good early on are long drives.
I'm not saying some things the WIAA does are wrong, ... I'm just saying, "I find it weird."