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St. Cloud State and Western Michigan invited to join new college hockey conference

Sep 21, 2011, 7:30 PM EDT

Tony Mosey AP

When the National Collegiate Hockey Conference was formed this summer, it was viewed as a brutal blow to the setup of college hockey. With teams from the WCHA and CCHA getting the call to join the new start-up conference beginning in 2013-2014, those two long-standing conferences were left scrambling to make plans with the formation of the NCHC and the Big Ten Conference.

With teams looking for new homes all over the college hockey landscape, the NCHC is trying to fill up their own ranks again. The NCHC has extended invitations to St. Cloud State (WCHA) and Western Michigan University (CCHA) to join their new alliance.

The NCHC explained why they’re giving out invitations to these two schools.

“After a thorough and deliberate evaluation process, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is delighted to extend invitations to St. Cloud State and Western Michigan to become members of what we believe will be the premier college hockey conference in the United States,” said Brian Faison, director of athletics at North Dakota and spokesperson for The National’s Athletic Directors Committee.

“Both universities fit perfectly with the established goals of our conference membership,” said Faison. “Their programs are highly competitive and produce quality student-athletes. Each institution has made significant commitments to the continued success of their hockey programs and they are both located in tradition-rich hockey states. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, with their passionate fans, will add a great deal to The National and we look forward to welcoming them.”

“With the launch of the inaugural season for The National just two years away, and with greaterclarity regarding membership, we are confident the strength of our schedules and the success of our teams will produce outstanding hockey with regional and national appeal, and strong contenders for the national championship on an annual basis,” Faison added.

St. Cloud and WMU would join North Dakota, Denver University, Colorado College, Miami University, Minnesota-Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha in the new conference. St. Cloud State said they will announce tomorrow afternoon what their intentions are. Both schools are expected to say “yes” to the NCHC. St. Cloud comes with a history of success in the WCHA while WMU is on the rebound after making the NCAA tournament last year and now have former NHL bench boss Andy Murray as head coach.

With St. Cloud and WMU expected to join the new conference, it leaves the WCHA and CCHA left to scramble even more to find a way to make things work out once the 2013-2014 season rolls around. One possibility is that the teams left over after everyone goes their separate ways will team up together to form a new WCHA. One way or another, change is coming and the college hockey landscape is going to be vastly different because of it.

  1. greatminnesotasportsmind - Sep 22, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Schools like Minnesota State and Bemidji get hosed. Just when they thought their programs were on the edge of becoming relevant.

    who the hell is going to want to play Alaska-Anchorage and/or Alaska-Fairbanks? Those 2 will be eliminated from college hockey.

    This also will kill Alabama Huntsville.

    I can see why the big 10 schools want to make their own conference in hockey. But a big 10 isn’t a college hockey conference with only half of the schools having hockey. Until Iowa, Nebraska, northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana have hockey programs, that is ridiculous to even consider that a conference.

    Then North Dakota, UMD, CC, and Denver leave to start their own conference? It all comes down to the might dollar.

    Schools like Bemidiji will never see the frozen 4 again. They can’t compete.

  2. murraychadwick - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I’m confused on the Western Michigan invite. This school has been at the bottom of the CCHA for years, excluding this past season. They will be bottom feeders again in this new conference as well.

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