College Hockey:
National Collegiate Hockey Conference launched after ‘intense’ lead-up

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference — college hockey’s newest conference that will be comprised of Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth and Miami — was officially announced on Wednesday at a news conference at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs, Colo. It will begin play in the 2013-14 season.

The news conference featured the coaches and athletic directors from each of the six institutions, with North Dakota AD Brian Faison and Denver coach George Gwozdecky addressing the media and answering questions. Each AD and coach then fielded media questions in private sessions after the formal press conference.

Faison said that the conference is formed on four key values of each school: competitiveness, an institutional commitment to hockey at the highest level, national exposure and history and tradition.

“Each of the six institutions came to the conclusion that the formation of the conference was absolutely the right decision for our respective institutions, our hockey programs and our fans,” said Faison. “The journey to get to today’s announcement has been intense. It’s gone on for many, many months.”

“We’re really going to be focused in with schools that have a burning desire to win national championships and are willing to fund their programs to that level, staff their programs to that level and build facilities that support those [goals],” said Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph. “From that perspective, it’s really exciting.”

The main precipitator for these teams leaving their respective conferences — Denver, North Dakota, Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth and Nebraska Omaha departing the WCHA and Miami defecting from the CCHA — was the formation of the Big Ten Conference for hockey earlier this year.

The conference has not chosen a location for the league headquarters nor has it named a commissioner. The Goldwater Group and Stafford Sports are handling the conference’s administration at the outset. Stafford Sports’ website lists the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which formerly administered what is now Atlantic Hockey, as one of its clients.

One other item that was hardly final at Wednesday’s news conference was the league’s size. It was made clear on Wednesday that the six founding members could be joined by other schools. Earlier reports indicated that Notre Dame is examining membership, something Faison confirmed on Wednesday. Western Michigan also has expressed interest, and reports surfaced this week that Boston College and Boston University were both approached by the NCHC but declined. Faison denied that either school was approached.

“I don’t think you’re going to see us stay at six [teams],” Ralph said. “I think you’re going to see us grow to seven or to eight or maybe beyond. And we’re not going to have a geographic boundary.

“You look at the name itself and we’re not confining ourselves to just a west or a central. We’re willing to look at teams from anywhere in the country that share our passion for playing hockey at the highest level.”

Besides further defining its membership, the NCHC also will be searching for a television deal. According to Ralph, they have already been contacted by networks.

“We’ve received some preliminary contacts, without us reaching out yet, from [networks] that are interested in carrying our games,” Ralph said. “Television is much more about exposure than it is about revenue.

“We’re going to be working to craft the best possible multimedia deal that we can. We want to make sure this league gets exposure.”

Some questioned the timing of the announcement and that so many key factors are not yet in place. Ralph said that it had to be announced now to be fair to all teams impacted. He also seemed hopeful that timing the start of play for the NCHC in concert with the start of the Big Ten will lead to a unified sense of working together across all of college hockey rather than what could become resentment by those teams left out of both leagues.

“Hockey scheduling is done two years out and we wanted to make sure [all schools] had enough lead time to make any changes they need to make,” Ralph said. “We’re syncing this to the start of the Big Ten Conference start. We hope there will be a little more symmetry nationwide in how we accommodate others to make sure everybody’s hockey program continues moving forward.”

One thing that was clear on Wednesday is that the decision by the schools to leave their respective conferences was a difficult one and could cause strife among those left out. Schools that weren’t included could harbor ill will, something that might become apparent in each team’s final two seasons in their current conference.

For someone like Colorado College coach Scott Owens, who has either played or coached in the WCHA for 21 years, Wednesday’s announcement was bittersweet

“I have mixed emotions,” Owens said. “A lot of the people I got into the business with and learned the business with, they’re all WCHA people. At the same time, things do change. Things change all the time. So I’m very excited about what’s on the horizon.”

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  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/535519-nick-p nick price

    new day for National Collegiate Hockey Conference

  • Joe C

    Wow, what an ambitious name! Why not International Collegiate Hockey Association or Universal Collegiate Hockey Association?

    NCHC just rolls of the tongue.

    • Bob


      • Joe C

        That would mean no need to search for a theme song!

  • Guest

    That is a pretty lame name, but they have a lot of tough teams in the league. Hope the smaller programs that are being left behind will be okay.

    • Mike

      well how great of a name is “hockey east”.  maybe they should have named the conference “hockey west”.  i wonder how people would have responded to that?  probably in the same way they always do, negatively

      • Guest

        pretty great actually. two words, abbreviates nicely, defines where the teams are- NCHC meanwhile sounds more like H1N1 or MRSA, not good in my opnion.

  • Billy white

    Is it as bad as Leaders and Legends or worse?

    • Joe C

      When they get enough teams, they could have Mountains and Prairies divisions…

      • Anonymous

        Good one! 

    • Guest

      No nothing is that bad IMHO.

  • MSU Grad 97

    This is very similar to the Division III conference National Collegiate Hockey Association in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Funny how they tried to rob the name of a current conference that once had Mankato, Bemidji, and St. Cloud in its glory days, but they were not good enough just this year to be included in this 2010-2011 super conference.  I suppose they’ll get Minnesota Crookston back on its feet now so the Susies and Bullsnots can whip up on them.  Good luck against St. Scholastica and that Duluth rivalry!

    • Ucchemprof

      The D-III NCHA is the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association

      • MSU Grad 97

        Yeah, I forgot about the Northern part.  I corrected it later down below.  Also, Crookston I guess was not in the NCHA as I thought, but another one for the NCHC to be confused with, the MCHA.

    • Ryankuntz19

      Dude you’re jealousy is a little too much right now.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NDQ4LPCQPS4ROQLVQ5VCREYJVY Geoff

    In an attempt to sound “powerful” and “grandiose,” the NCHC instead comes off as rushed and gimmicky.  Nice try.  You’ll never have the cachet or academic reputation of the Big Ten.  Go Blue!

    • Bob

      Academic reputation of the Big 10? Other than Michigan and Northwestern, they’re degree factories, nothing more.

      • Anonymous

        That’s a blatant lie. As much as I hate to say it, the University of Wisconsin is a very good school and was one of the original “Public Ivies.” The University of Minnesota is also a top 25 public school, as is Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, and Penn St.. Every single Big Ten school, sans maybe Nebraska, is a top 100 national university in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Besides undegraduate education, look at the research expenditures of these schools. They’re far from what I’d call “degree factories.”

        • guest

          Key word there being “public.”  Look at the top 25 schools in the US World News and report and see how many publics there are.  The top hockey-playing schools academics-wise are the Ivies and ND

          GO IRISH

    • Ivy League or Nothing

      Wisconsin is awarded the badge of honor as having the most drunks on campus, other than that I have never heard of anyone being impressed because someone graduated from a Big 10 school.  Degrees from Iowa and Minnesota are irrelevant.

      • JakeofClubs

        The Engineering schools are good in the Big 10.  Not that a hockey player goes to engineering school, but I’m just saying.

    • Bulldog Fan In Cirlce Pines

      It comments like this that made watching the Bulldogs knockout the ugly helmets in the title game that much more enjoyable.

  • MSU Grad 97

    Whoops, I guess with further research it is the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, and UM-Crookston (MCHA) was never in it – though St. Scholastica and a bunch of Wisconsin schools are.  MSU, SCSU, and BSU were indeed in the NCHA when it was a big D II conference, with each leaving in order to go D I.  Still, I am sure that many others will be confused with all these similar sounding conferences.

  • Anonymous

    National Collegiate Hick Conference.

    • Astrocyte

      National Collegiate National Championship Conference

  • Blackbear94

    Not going to confine itself geographically?  Awesome.  Then you can have UMass-Lowell, Providence, and Merrimack (recent success notwithstanding and sure to disipate after losing DaCosta and Cannata).  Oh, wiat, the whole purpose of the new league was to drop the bottom-feeders so they could create a “super league” and get a big tv deal.  Sounds like an ominous goal to me…

  • Snipercohan23

    What a terrible name!  At least come up with and rip off Hockey East and call yourselves the Hockey West Conference.  Even Atlantic Hockey scounds better.  What a joke

  • Theflyingscotsman48

    Hockey West would have been more appropriate since teams from Colorado, Missouri, Iowa and even California could be added in the future …

  • Suture

    LOL….y’all kill me…lol.  I have never seen so many jealous SOB’s….LOL…:)  I can’t wait to come back tomorrow and read about every other person telling me how “their” school is the best.  Sounds like a bunch of 10 year olds….”we are better than you”…..lol…this is too funny.  Let me tell you about undergraduate school….it matters very little.  Yea, I know graduating from Harvard or Notre Dame might carry some weight, I get that.  But, you start talking about MSU, Meeshagin, Sconny, OSU, etc…do you REALLY think it matters?  No, I don’t think so.  Besides, what the heck are we talking about here?  We are talking about college hockey.  When I see someone who is forced to bring up their school’s scholastic ranking I know they have a crappy hockey team….lol.  We are talking hockey people, I don’t care if Minnesota is the 95th best school in the country….and Wisconsin is #91.   Who cares?  We are a bunch of hockey fans who care about one thing….did or will our team win? Furthermore,  maybe….maybe….10% of college players TRULY care about their grade point or if their school is ranked  6 slots higher than some other school (at least  in the WCHA….or whatever it is now),  
     Anyway, does any of this really matter?  There are not that many college hockey teams in the country and most of these teams will end up playing a fairly similar schedule in these new conferences as they do now.  At the end of the day all that matters is who wins…..what’s the saying….just win baby.  I think y’all are making a mountain out of a mole hill.  But, I do enjoy the comments so keep them coming…..can always use some humor in my day. 

    • LincolnJim

      Hey ya Suture, hows your summer going?  How how come you’re not telling us about UND’s PWR ranking being better than Michigan or how they really controlled that game.  LOOL budy.  Another year of no championship.  I think you’re probably wrong about 10%.  I heard Rocco Grimaldi already announced his major is going to be staying away from the bars where Frattin and Kristo hang out and going to those others where those beauties in Grand Forks come on weekends, hockey games, rodeos and tractor pulls.   

      • Fan

        Cant wait to stomp on whatever team you think is good next year!~  Rocco’s gonna tear you up 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MCMX2SQQBUSHSQ76AEY7X6DKIM Larry

        I am a Sioux alum and I can comfortable say that behind every tree in North Dakota there is a good looking girl…wait there are no trees in North Dakota. All things considered the Sioux are consistently in the Frozen Four which I am sure many colleges would like to say.

      • Guest

        Cant you just be thankful that you got invited to this new conference? Do you think that if Blais wasn’t your coach you would be there right now? Give it a rest dude. Not like your team won the title this past year right?

  • Joeblow

    Natty conference = Natty champs = Natty ice

  • Brian

    I question the true strength of this new National
    Collegiate Hockey Association. UNO has been very average at best;
    Miami a nice recent run, but overall history has been weak; Despite a national title, UMD has a
    very inconsistent program; CC is a very, very small school,
    DU a very small school with great recent history but overall long-term
    mediocrity; North Dakota is the only true consistent power.  Is there real longevity here, people??

    • Astrocyte

      Imagine if they replaced UNO, UMD, DU, CC, Miami with UMass, Merrimack, RIT, Yale and Harvard. Of course, that would never happen, but the league would be far, far weaker.

      This will undoubtedly be an elite league year in and year out. 

  • LincolnJim

    If you want to figure out what schools go where, let the geography majors at UND figure it out.  I hear that the reason why Greogoire left the Sioux to play for the Winnipeg Jets is that he always wanted to play in Mexico

    • Astrocyte


  • sanfy

    they sure made it tough to buy season tickets to st cloud

  • Jdevoejr

    So now, when UND or Miami gets beat up by an eastern school in the NCAA’s are we  gonna have to listen forever about how their tough regular season schedule and tough league tounament wore them out prior to the national tournament? Oh wait, we already do listen to that.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MCMX2SQQBUSHSQ76AEY7X6DKIM Larry

    Developing a new conference is no worse than the Big 10 establishing there own conference. I like Minnesota-Duluth but they haven’t been a power house until recently, but it makes sense the relationship and the teams chosen. Dean Blais, UNO coach and Scott Sandelin, the Duluth coach, combined with their old team North Dakota that they both co-coached at. You add the two perennial strong Colorado teams and a consistently good Miami team. Norte Dame would be a good addition. History and a good rivalry. In the WCHA everyone hated the Gophers..so having the Irish would make a good story line and a potential national interest. The WCHA and CCHA could merge eventually and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.

  • UMD21

    Pretty sure Iowa State has traditionally had a tough club hockey team–they could be a possible addition to grow the conference. I’m sure Iowa State could pile on a bunch of Minnesotans and create a winning team before Penn State.

    Also, loving how people from Ivy League schools are commenting about education and how nobody is impressed by degrees from other schools…really?
    If your school provides such a valuable leg up on life, what kind of hockey players go to college for the education? I’m thinking the ones who don’t have a promising hockey career ahead of them. Wouldn’t this mean the Harvard’s and Yale’s are nothing but BC, BU and Maine rejects? That’s how I see it at least.

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