RINDGE, N.H. — The Franklin Pierce College men’s ice hockey team will upgrade to NCAA Division II status and has accepted an invitation to participate in the ECAC Northeast Division beginning in the 2002-03 academic year after nearly 30 years of competition as a club program. The announcement was made today by Bruce Kirsh, Director of Athletics at the College.
“The College looks forward to making the commitment to fielding an NCAA ice hockey program,” said Kirsh. “We [are] excited about competing in the ECAC-Northeast and recognize the challenge ahead of us.”
The Ravens will become the 19th member of the ECAC’s Northeast Division, competing with the likes of Assumption, Fitchburg State, Plymouth State, Saint Michael’s, Southern New Hampshire and Stonehill. The ECAC also sponsors a Division II Championship that includes Saint Anselm.
The Franklin Pierce ice hockey team is nearly 30 years old, competing as a club program. The Ravens are currently a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and compete in the Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) with schools such as MIT, Bates, Bridgewater State and Springfield.
The Ravens captured the NECHA Championship in 1994-95 and 1995-96. The team was invited to the ACHA National Championships following the 1994-95 season.
Head Coach Jay McCormack, a 1986 graduate of the College and former hockey player, has been the driving force behind the program’s move and cites this as a personal goal throughout his 12-year reign as head coach.
“While the process didn’t begin in earnest until approximately 18 to 24 months ago, this was always a goal of mine for the program,” said McCormack. “It is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the athletic department and the College administration.”
McCormack has posted a 128-82-11 (.604) career record at the College.
“By attaching the NCAA label to our program, it gives us an added edge in recruiting and will help us bring better student-athletes to our campus,” added McCormack. “The ECAC Northeast is just a perfect fit for us from a competitive and geographical standpoint. So many of the teams are within a short drive of our campus.”
McCormack also notes that three other ECAC Northeast programs (Wentworth, Johnson and Wales and Salve Regina) have their roots in the NECHA.
With Franklin Pierce upgrading its program to NCAA status, there are also talks of the Northeast-10 Conference investigating adding the sport as a future Conference Championship. With Franklin Pierce at varsity status, there will be six NE-10 institutions sponsoring men’s ice hockey, thus making the sport eligible as a future NE-10 Championship sport.
“In keeping with one of the main aspects of the Division II Philosophy Statement, The Northeast-10 Conference is continually evaluating the expansion of the championships conducted,” said David Brunk, Commissioner of the Northeast-10. “With Franklin Pierce committed to varsity ice hockey effective in 2002, this will guarantee the required number of participant teams necessary for recognition in NCAA formulas and provide the opportunity of championship competition for those student-athletes.
“This, as with the addition of any conference sport, will be subject to a recommendation from the Directors Council and formal approval by the Northeast-10 Council of Presidents at their June, 2002, meeting.”
The Ravens begin their final club season on Wednesday, Oct. 17, when they host the Dartmouth club team at 7:30 p.m.