We reported yesterday that Atlantic Hockey had interest from two schools to replace Connecticut as a 12th member after the Huskies depart for Hockey East at the end of next season. The league would not go on the record on the identity of the schools because neither had formally applied yet.
But the cat’s out of the bag, so I am O.K. confirming that they are indeed Rhode Island and St. Anselm. The league had asked me to wait until the schools had applied, but the Boston Herald posted the story today.
- URI is more well known and would be a natural fit for Hockey East someday to align with the rest of the New England state schools (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and soon Connecticut). That means this could be a stepping stone move for the Rams. Of course, there’s no room in Hockey East, but, as we’ve seen recently, things can change quickly in terms of conference realignment.
- St. Anselm has a nice facility and is 10 miles from the AHA offices. This would open the door to the school taking its women’s team to College Hockey America, which could lead to Holy Cross and Sacred Heart joining. Both have not despite the natural CHA-AHA alignment because of travel expenses – most of the of CHA is in NY and PA. It’s not clear if URI would field a varsity women’s program, but that could work as well interms of Sacred Heart and Holy Cross being enticed to upgrade their women’s programs.
- It’s sad to not see Navy in the mix. The Midshipmen have been mentioned as one of four possible candidates and it would be exciting to expand on the Army-Air Force rivalry. The school has expressed interest in the past and was a co-host of the 2009 Frozen Four. But its athletic department is reportedly distracted right now with moving football to the ever-changing Big East (Edit: Now called the American Athletic Conference since the Big East name is staying with the “Catholic Seven”).
Stay tuned as this story continues to develop.