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College Hockey:
Notre Dame set to announce move to Hockey East

Notre Dame has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday, at which it will announce it will join Hockey East, sources have said.

The Fighting Irish were considering Hockey East and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for the 2013-14 season, but the NCHC issued a news release Sunday, saying it would start with the eight teams that had already committed.

In Notre Dame, Hockey East adds a national name with a large fan base and a program that was in the Frozen Four last season and opens the 2011-12 campaign No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll.

But the South Bend, Ind., school is well outside the league’s current New England base, and it takes Hockey East to 11 teams — an uneven structure that in the past has been seen by some conference commissioners as undesirable.

Adding a 12th team to Hockey East could involve ECAC Hockey in the realignment discussion that has dominated the offseason.

In March, the Big Ten Conference announced it was forming a six-team league in 2013-14, taking Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State from the CCHA and Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA. Penn State starts varsity play as an independent in 2012-13 before joining its Big Ten counterparts a year later.

The NCHC was unveiled in July, with charter members Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota from the WCHA and Miami from the CCHA.

The WCHA responded by adding Northern Michigan from the CCHA and later offering spots to five CCHA members. Alaska, Ferris State and Lake Superior State accepted, while Bowling Green and Western Michigan did not commit.

In September, the NCHC offered spots to St. Cloud State from the WCHA and Western Michigan; both accepted.

Also Tuesday, Bowling Green announced it had accepted the WCHA’s invitation. Reports had also linked Atlantic Hockey schools to discussions on realignment.


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  • RamboWildcat

    What a lame move.  I wonder who in South Bend will look forward to seeing those schools come to town? They are elite programs, but from a cultural standpoint, these folks live along the Michigan border and are not too far from Ohio….they’ll miss the Midwest rivalries for conference title chases!  

    • GoldDomersWillFeelThePain2013

      No they wont…. Notre Dame plays BBall in the Big East and until very recently they were the only Big East school in the Mid-West (now joined by DePaul, big wup, and Marquette, who Notre Dame does not consider a major rival, just really a Catholic rival). Notre Dame likes playing in the East because of TV market size and the large colonies of Notre Dame fans along the Atlantic Seaboard. Also, both the Big East and Hockey East have a few Catholic member schools which helps fuel a mutual rivalry. Am I saying ND will concider Merrimack more of a rival than Michigan… defineatly not, the schools history on football field sees to that. But I am saying that ND will look at Merrimack as more of a rival than Bowling Green, or Western Mich., or maybe even Miami (although that last one has been pretty intresting the last few years) because of the common Jesuit founding of the schools. Also RamboWildcat (assumeing your a UNH fan), imagine hosting Notre Dame every year at the Witt…. Im a Northeastern fan and I can’t wait to hear the cheers ppl come up with for Notre Dame… its gonna be epic.

      • Joe C

        Also, last year I got to watch Notre Dame on my television play at Agganis on ESPNU. I expect a bunch more of that, even though I hope my Terriers will fare better this year.

        Notre Dame will not be playing Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in conference play beginning 2013. Yes, that would be the first choice of the hockey program. But the rest of the programs all follow what keeps football independent. Hockey East is their best choice.

        There are now four Catholic programs in Hockey East. Invite Holy Cross and make it five or invite UConn and make it 5 New England State Universities. (Sorry Rhode Island)

        • GoldDomersWillFeelThePain2013

          Holy Cross would be intresting except for the fact that they really havnt been relivent in hockey for years now…. if ever really. UConn is in the same boat except that they have NEVER been relavent in Hockey. Personally I would love for Hockey East to get either UConn or Syracuse (if they start a program as rumered). UConn would round out the New England state schools (URI does not even have a hockey program) and Syracuse would affirm Hockey East’s new identity outside of New England. I’ve heard rumblings that UConn may actually get serious in Hockey and that Hockey East has pretty much been waiting for them to go up to 18 scholerships, but ive heard similar stories since 2005. UConn’s women play in Hockey East and I know they will utilise that to seek entry on the men’s side if they ever boost their hockey cred. My wishes and my gut says UConn. Notre Dame is a welcomed addition… but I really dont think the New England schools want any more members hailing from west of the Hudsen River.

          • Joe C

            I completely agree with your not west of the Hudson for any other program, with the possible exceptions of a large school like Syracuse or Pittsburgh launching a D-I program in the manner of Penn State.

            RPI is a right now choice, as in they have history and a good current program. However, not sure what adding the Albany market brings in terms of recruiting or television. Holy Cross is a hybrid pick, as it does not have much history in hockey but is located in Worcester, which is an easy drive for everyone but Maine, Vermont, Providence and, of course, Notre Dame. It would be the closest school to UMass. UConn is the future potential pick, biggest television market underserved in Hockey East and decent recruiting.

          • Brown Fan

            Worcester is no more difficult a trip than Boston for Maine and Vermont.   Providence is slightly closer to Worcester than it is to Boston, about a 35-40 minute drive 
            Either way, I don’t see Holy Cross as a viable choice for Hockey East at all.   HC has made no commitment to big time athletics whatsoever, its football and basketball programs are a shell of what they used to be.  They declined to join the Big East back in its infancy and seem happy with the status quo.  Also, don’t forget the ECAC(!) passed on HC and added Quinnipiac instead after Vermont left, due to HC’s small and inadequate facilities.  
            Despite it’s lack of history I wouldn’t be shocked if HE made a run at Quinnipiac.  Facilities are modern and the school has made a commitment to improving the program (though I was very unimpressed by the quiet and apathetic crowds in the two games I’ve seen at the Q’s nice new rink).   RPI still is an outside shot but would they be willing to give up rivalries with ECAC teams that they play in all other sports (i.e. Clarkson, SLU, Union) and other upstate NY teams (Cornell, Colgate)?  Not so sure

      • RamboWildcat

        Yeah, like ND fans are going to get jacked up for Merrimack!  Give me a break!  They go ape when U of M shows up for a league race game.  Merrimack!  Get Real!

        • CCHA-RIP

          Your obviously a Blowhard and completely missed the point he was making. Michigan still trumps Merrimack, but Catholic schools trump Western Michigan and such. Hockey east is more catholic than CCHA. Now please actually read a comment before responding.

        • GoldDomersWillFeelThePain2013

          I dont think Merrimack will be bigger than Michigan (I even said that) to Notre Dame hockey fans. And Notre Dame fans do not need a “league race game” versus Michigan to get all excited about playing Michigan…. they could host bobbing-for-apples versus Michigan and the Irish would turn up (unless Brian Kelly was leading them). With Hockey East, Notre Dame will still have plenty of Non-Conference games to play whomever they want… which will be Michigan. But the Big 10 was out of the question, the NCHC when compared to Hockey East is A) Smaller B) Less Prestigious (historically, as a conference) C) Devoid of Catholic Schools D) Is played in a less populated overall market.

          Notre Dame’s choice was a good one for them.
          The CCHA was already dead.
          And what else would the be…. Independent? That surely works for Alabama-Huntsville.

        • Joe C

          Notre Dame lost the premier programs that are currently in CCHA to future BTHC (Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) and future NCHC (Miami). The rest of the future NCHC and future BTHC schools are currently WCHA or never had a program.

          Therefore, the question for Notre Dame: Do you prefer to be in Hockey East with BU, BC, UNH, ME and UVM (all with recent Final Four history) or NCHC with Miami, UND, CC, Denver and UMD (all with recent Final Four history) ? The answer, apparently, is to go where the alumni base, casual fan base (football) and television base is biggest. If BU and Cornell can play in Madison Square Garden, can BC/ND at Madison Square Garden be that far away?

          The ship has sailed on being in a conference with Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota or Wisconsin. The Big Ten and Notre Dame just do not get along, no matter how much actual sense it makes for them to be together.

          Finally, do not go to sleep on Merrimack (or any other HE/WCHA/NCHC program). I am sure that the first time an underdog Merrimack, Providence or Lowell with a hot goaltender bounces Notre Dame from the HE quarterfinals, the Irish wil know just how tough HE can be. Getting to the TD Garden in March, 2014 will be earned. Of course, educated hockey fans know just how good Merrimack was last year, despite some down years.

    • Joe C

      You realize that in all sports outside of hockey and football, Notre Dame plays in the Big East Conference. This means a lot of trips to the east coast. In footballl, the Irish play games against USC, Stanford, Navy and Boston College regularly. They are a national program and this year having games against South Florida, Maryland, Wake Forest, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Michigan and Michigan State.

      Notre Dame does not want to be part of the Big Ten. Therefore the choice was between NCHC and Hockey East and the travel difference is hardly a difference, given the travel to Denver, CC, North Dakota required in NCHC, as opposed to flights from Chicago to Boston,

      The premiere “midwest” rivalries from the CCHA they are losing in Michigan and Ohio already left for the BTHC, other than Miami, which left for NCHC.

      • Fan Man

        Actually does make sense…  Im an Irish football fan and Im am so glad that ND (yes not UND my team) is not making the jump or even giving the big ten a glimpse of thier program.  I wanted to see them in the NCHC but the move does not suprise me and from what Big Joe says it does make sense for them to go that route and im sure that is a big reason as to why the commish of NCHC announced early that they would form their 8 team division in 13′

        • Fan Man

          13′ division early than what ND announced that is

  • Joe C

    I look forward to Notre Dame and the program to be named later to join Hockey East in 2013! In the meantime, it will be fun to play them this year.

    This is great news for Hockey East and we welcome the Irish!

  • JamesDee

    Good move for Notre Dame. All the other sports play out east why not hockey.

    They will still be able to play the midwest schools in NC games.

    The Notre Dame faithful would prefer Boston (Hockey East) over Denver(NCHC) any day.

    Go East not West.

    Good move for college hockey and natrual rivals in Boston.

  • Col. Forbin

    From an institutional perspective, Uconn, and only Uconn, makes sense as a 12th. HE is absolutely not going to add a D-3 school like RPI, or a school that made a conscious decision in the 70s to step back from big time sports, like Holy Cross. I’d go far as to say that HE would kick out Merrimack and UML if it easily could, as the only non D-1 schools in the conference. They just aren’t a fit.

    By comparison to the other choices, Uconn is a powerhouse as a sports institution. It just needs to prioritize hockey a little more and there’s no reason it can’t be a powerhouse…see Penn State, which I’m sure will be competitive in relatively short order. 

    • CCHA – RIP

      Lowell helped start Hockey East hard to see them getting kicked out and Merrimack is their historic rival (They were the dominant devision 2 hockey programs in the 70s). In other words… unless Hockey East wants to move up and be an all-sports conference (NOT GOING TO HAPPEN) Both Lowell and the ‘Mack are staying right where they are. 

      I have wanted them out of Hockey East for years, but I have come to realise that the history between UML and the Hockey East, and UML and MC will keep all three together. 

    • NCAAHockeyFan

      I agree with your UConn comment. As an institution, they would make a great addition to Hockey East, the conference would include all New England state universities.

      • Joe C

        Well, except for URI, but that is only a club program. Providence and Brown are more than enough programs for Rhode Island.

        Completely agree with UConn as the forward-looking vision of Hockey East, especially from a television and name recognition standpoint.

        As an aside, while UConn’s on campus rink has inadequate capacity, there is a nice NHL-level and current AHL-hosting arena in downtown Hartford, when the UConn basketball teams sometimes play. It might even host a “neutral site” regional in the near future.

    • Joe C

      Which Hockey East program wants to make Hockey East into an all-sports league, which is the only reason to move, as CCHA-RIP pointed out?
      BC is never leaving ACC or D-I FBS football, so Hockey East is perfect fit.
      ME/NH/VT will always be D-I FCS football.
      Northeastern and BU wisely dropped D-I FCS football as luxuries no one really wanted (hence the upgrades to Matthews and the construction of Agganis made possible by not bleeding cash on football)
      Providence happy in Big East and remaining wherever Big East founders will play basketball.
      UMass might bolt when it goes from D-I FCS to D-I FCS, but to where? Big East or MAC, which lands them right back in Hockey East.
      Lowell and Merrimack are quite happy where they are.

      A future UConn will most likely be ACC and go there if Notre Dame is forced to put football in a conference, which means stay in Hockey East.

      In fact, the ony credible threat to Hockey East is some hypothetical when ACC schools beyond Pitt and Syracuse get serious about hockey and decide to form an ACCHC. That would be requires six teams (just like BTHC) for the autobid. So a 16-team ACC with ND and UConn added, plus Pitt and Syracause adding programs, BC already there and some unknown sixth team (Maryland, VT, UVa, UNC, Duke). While I would love to see the uniforms, I will let my future grandkids blog about the changes.  

  • 17

    I guess Notre Dame can’t hang with the big boys from the NCHC.  I think they were scared.  ND should just get it over with and join the Big Ten in all sports.