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College Hockey:
How the conferences look with Bowling Green, Notre Dame moving

Here’s your latest look at what the Division I men’s college hockey conferences will look like in 2013-14, when realignment comes around. Bowling Green has committed to the WCHA and Notre Dame has said it’s going to Hockey East, which gives everyone from the current CCHA a new home.

ATLANTIC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Air Force *
American International #
Army *
Bentley #
Canisius *
Connecticut *
Holy Cross *
Mercyhurst #
Niagara *
Rochester Institute of Technology ^
Robert Morris *
Sacred Heart *

BIG TEN (6 teams, new)
Michigan (from CCHA) *
Michigan State (from CCHA) *
Minnesota (from WCHA) *
Ohio State (from CCHA) *
Penn State (from independent) *
Wisconsin (from WCHA) *

ECAC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Brown *
Clarkson ^
Colgate *
Cornell *
Dartmouth *
Harvard *
Princeton *
Quinnipiac *
Rensselaer ^
St. Lawrence ^
Union ^
Yale *

HOCKEY EAST (11 teams, adds 1)
Boston College *
Boston University *
Maine *
Massachusetts *
Massachusetts-Lowell #
Merrimack #
New Hampshire *
Northeastern *
Notre Dame * (from CCHA)
Providence *
Vermont *

NCHC (8 teams, new)
Colorado College (from WCHA) ^
Denver (from WCHA) *
Miami (from CCHA) *
Minnesota-Duluth (from WCHA) #
Nebraska-Omaha (from WCHA) *
North Dakota (from WCHA) *
St. Cloud State (from WCHA) #
Western Michigan (from CCHA) *

WCHA (9 teams, loses 8, adds 5)
Alaska (from CCHA) #
Alaska-Anchorage #
Bemidji State #
Bowling Green * (from CCHA)
Ferris State (from CCHA) #
Lake Superior State (from CCHA) #
Michigan Tech #
Minnesota State #
Northern Michigan (from CCHA) #

INDEPENDENT (1 team)
Alabama-Huntsville #

* – Schools at Division I level in all sports (38, 64 percent)
# – Schools at Division II level in most sports but Division I for hockey (15, 25 percent)
^ – Schools at Division III level in most sports but Division I for hockey (6, 10 percent)

Now we’re on the lookout for the next moves. Does Hockey East find a 12th member? Does Alabama-Huntsville survive its internal battle and find a conference home? What of Minnesota State-Moorhead and Buffalo, two schools that have indicated an interest in playing Division I hockey?

Stay tuned.

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  • Joe C

    Thanks for the update!

    Change finally happens east of Ohio (other than the Penn State addition).

    The western half of hockey looks set, with WCHA, NCHC and BTHC done. I hope that WCHA makes one more move and invites UAH.

    It would be awesome to know what is going on at Hockey East headquarters, especially as it relates to the twelvth program and television (more please)

    • Spanky

      WCHA is not going to invite UAH. UAH best hope is atlantic hockey. WCHA may invite Air Force both because it makes sense geographically and also because presumably they would be able to afford to provide the full number or scholarships. If Air Force leaves, then MAYBE atlantic hockey invites UAH but travel money is always a problem with atlantic hockey schools, hence thier stupid conference playoff seedings system last year.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is time for one of the eastern conferences to take on UAH.  The western conferences have traditionally taken care of outlier programs like Alaska and UAA, despite the increased travel costs.  At the same time the  eastern conferences have not been willing to go out on limb to help programs despite the fact that that their programs are clustered close together and, comparitviely, their travel costs are minimal.  Huntsville, Alabama is an eastern community and it is time for HE, AHA, or the ECAC to step up.

    • FrozenFourFan

      You are exactly right.  It will be interesting to see what school if any Hockey East takes to get to 12.  Whoever it is, that conference should pick up Huntsville and get them a home.  Also agree with Spanky, Air Force should move to the WCHA.

    • Joe C

      Huntsville Alabama is west of Ohio. There is no difference in travel for the majority of WCHA schools compared to Hockey East, ECAC or AHA. It is all plane travel. In fact, the closest conference geographically to UAH is BTHC. 

      The big eastern conferences do help out other programs, protecting smaller programs like Merrimack, UMass Lowell, Clarkson, St Lawrence, the D-II programs that had to move up to keep hockey relevant but are D-II or D-III in all other sports. HE and ECAC schedule games with AHA to help those schools out.

      To expect AHA to pick up additional travel is a tough pill to swallow, given the size of most of these schools or their overall commitment to athletics. UConn is the only exception and I do not expect them to foot the bill for AHA. The purpose of the AHA is to incubate fledging programs and give them a stable place to grow.

      I would say that the BTHC should be the conference to help UAH by playing non-conference games against them during conference play. I am still trying to figure out the BTHC conference schedule. Four games against each school seems pretty bland and leads to tie-breaker nightmares. Five games against each school eliminates tie-breaker issues but seems a tad excessive. Then again, there IS all that air time on BTN. Hey look, Ohio State hosting Penn State…AGAIN!

      Honestly, we all know that BTHC will be playing NCHC non-conference during conference play for the first ten years because some of those matchups will sell lots of tickets and have decent television ratings. I feel bad for UAH and wish things were not this way, but things are this way.

      • Anonymous

        Huntsville being west of Ohio doesn’t change the fact that is it is closer to most AHA and HE schools than it it is to the 2013-14 WCHA programs (other than BG) .  Or the fact that eastern schools are clustered together with lower travel costs than the western conferences.  What a Hockey East school calls a long road trip is considered a trip to the grocery store in the WCHA and CCHA.  After Hockey East poaches someone to become their 12th team, the conference who got their pocket picked should take UAH.    

        • Joe C

          Other than Notre Dame, which Hockey East school is less than 1,000 miles from UAH? Yes, it is true that all of Hockey East is very close. The longest bus ride time-wise is UVM to Maine because there is no straight shot. The price for schools being close is that the programs are more expensive to run in urban/suburban locations. Not everyone has a Big Ten football team and 40-60,000 students to support their hockey programs.

          Honestly, as I have said before, it is not up to AHA, HE, ECAC or WCHA to pick up the slack for UAH. It is really up to BTHC and NCHC, the two conferences that changed the landscape of WCHA and killed CCHA. But we know they will play each other in non-conference games and let WCHA and AHA figure out how to add non-Hockey East/ECAC out of conference games.

          Why did Notre Dame go to Hockey East? Because there was no CCHA worth saving. I am not a fan of what happened to WCHA and CCHA, but that is what Big Ten bylaws required.

      • FrozenFourFan

        Couple of things…   First regarding commitment to athletics and conference “obligations” to smaller schools… Atlantic Hockey currently has 8 Div-I schools and 4 schools that are normally DII or DIII.  When it comes to “protecting” DI hockey programs, the new look WCHA will have 1 Div-I school and 8 schools that are normally DII. 

        The average distance between the WCHA schools and Alabama Huntsville is 1,602 miles.  The average distance between AHA schools and Alabama Huntsville is 955 miles. 

        BTHC will not allow non-B1G schools to join their conference period.

        There is no reason why a NCAA school with a DI program that is committed to hockey should be playing as an independent, especially with the current realignment that is occuring.  The reality is, HE will probably add another team from AHA or the ECAC.  If this occurs, the sensible thing to do is add Huntsville to that conference.  The other option is that Air Force moves to the WCHA, because other than Army being in the AHA, the fact that Air Force is traveling to NY, MA, CT and PA for every away game is plain stupid.

        Air Force to WCHA, Alabama to AHA, best option overall.

        • Joe C

          If you include the two Alaska schools, you are selectively using statistics. Also, I said the the BTHC is the closest conference that could play NON-conference games. Since UAH is not an AAU member, no Big 10. Compare the closest schools in NCHC, BTHC, WCHA, AHA, ECAC and HE and you will find that there is a different read. Also, if you use the median schools distance, this changes things, too. It was very hard to figure out the median school for AHA, since Air Force is next to CC and Bentley is next to the Boston schools. It might be easiest to treat is like ECAC. The brutal reality is that is a long ways away from every other program.

          Here are the mileages to select schools
          Miami 419 Closest NCHC
          Ohio State 494 Closest BTHC
          Notre Dame 542 Closet HE
          Michigan 636
          Western Michigan 642 Closest WCHA
          Michigan State 648
          Robert Morris 707 Closest AHA
          Niagara 710
          Wisconsin 713
          Mercyhurst 734
          Ferris State 746
          Penn State 796
          Princeton 881 Closet ECAC
          Nebraska-Omaha 960
          Minnesota 979
          Minnesota Duluth 1033
          RPI 1047 Median HE (guess)
          UConn 1064
          Boston 1140 Median HE (guess)
          Vermont 1205
          Denver 1269
          North Dakota 1290
          Maine 1376
          Fairbanks 4024
          Anchorage 4140

          • Joe C

            RPI is the median ECAC school. Pinrceton is closest, not closet.

          • FrozenFourFan

            Fact is, BOTH Alaska schools are in the new WCHA, therefore, it is only reasonable to use them when factoring travel.  Fortunately for the rest of us, you will not decide where Huntsville will wind up.

          • FrozenFourFan

            Western Michigan is not in the WCHA

      • FrozenFourFan

        Also, since when did Ohio become the center of the US?  The Mississippi River is about the closest thing we have to a East/West Divide, and Alabama is no doubt east of that, over 200 miles east.

        • Joe C

          See the mileage list below. The closest D-I hockey programs to UAH are in OH, IN, MI and PA. That sounds like BTHC is the closest, just like the old CCHA used to be the closest. I never said that Ohio is the center of the United States. I wrote the UAH is west of Ohio. The map of the US confirms this to be the case.

          Hunstville, Alabama is almost directly south of South Bend, Indiana. The more you know….

          • FrozenFourFan

            Again, Alabama is in the eastern US, that is a fact.  Second fact, BTHC will under no circumstance take Huntsville.  Therefore, they are left with either the AHA, ECAC, or WCHA.  What everyone other than you is trying to say is, the best option would be the AHA.

  • Anonymous

    Since NCHC seems done b/c of Notre Dame moving on, Minnesota State-Moorhead is the best 12th WCA candidate. If not, Air Force is a good candidate. After that I don’t care too much for the options. The good thing about the dilemma for WCA is that they have time to find out whether Moorhead can get a division 1 program and if not, Air Force would likely jump at the opportunity to play in a better division.

  • NCAAHockeyFan

    I agree that Air Force would be a good addition to the WCHA (to make it 10 teams). That would leave Atlantic Hockey with the odd number of 11. Too bad UCONN doesn’t have a larger program because they could be a cool fit in Hockey East; it would include all the New England state universities (that have hockey…sorry URI). 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RXIYXPN5XUZ2V5UT7CEV2YHZBY A guy named Joe

    We’re not done yet in the East.  What happens if the NE-10 forms a full fledged conference when St. Anselm and St. Michael’s get kicked out of the ECAC-E??  They’ll have the same standing as the WCHA (sans BGSU).

  • EAGLES

    Alabama Huntsville deserves a home WCHA  seems to not really want them.
    .Rumor has Holy Cross going to Hockey East if they do which is a longshot AHA would invite Huntsville.I would not be surprised if Hockey East stays at 11 I do know the Garden will be rocking for BC Notre Dame at the Hockey East Championship   .
    Air Force to the WCHA makes the most sense for them less travel and it opens the door for the Chargers .

  • Ams1117

    I agree that it is a shame that UAH has not found a home yet with all the conference changes.  I wonder if they finally committed to remaining a D1 program if someone would have offered them a slot.  As a Hockey East fan, now that we have expanded to Indiana and unless UCONN raises the status of their hockey program or Syracuse, URI or VIllanova add D1 hockey, HE should reach out to UAH.  
    Another option for Air Force should be NHCH with DU and CC.  I have heard the only reason they stay at AH is for the Army rivalry, then NHCH should expand to 10 and take in AF and Army.  
    Or Ivy does a B10 and creates their own conference, then ECAC can add NU, RIT, CU and other AHA schools. . .

  • JamesDee

    I wish Miami, WMU and Bowling Green would have gone out east and formed with lower halves of the Hockey East like Northeastern, Merrimack, UMass and  UMass Lowell.

    The Upper Half of East could form their own league
    Boston University, Boston College, Vermont, Maine, Notre Dame, RPI, Providence, and UNH. 

    Eight team leagues are nice. I

  • Robert8_fun

    I really wish Navy, the Naval Academy, would take its club program to varsity status. Army and Air Force are both varsity. Navy would be a great addition to college hockey. Navy could perhaps join Hockey East. The Navy Midshipmen adding hockey is my hope.

  • Knaeble4

    Sensible approach:

    WCHA: AK,AK,CC,DU,AFA,UC-boulder,other western schools (Utah, Montana,Washington,etc)

    Heartland: UND,MN,WI,Mich,MSU,OSU,PSU,UN-omaha

    CCHA-west: Mankato,SCSU,Duluth,Bemidji,NMU,Mtech,LakeSt,NDSU

    CCHA-east: NotreDame,Miami,BowlingGreen,UAH,Mercyhurst,Niagara,Ferris,WMich

    HockeyEast: Maine,Vermont,UNH,BU,BC,Umass,Uconn

    ECACacademic: Cornell,Princeton,Harvard,Yale,Colgate,RPI,possiby ARMY,etc

    ECACother:  all other remaining east coast teams

    preserves rivalries, keeps travel costs down, is sustainable (with perhaps an exception in the west), makes for exciting hockey, results in parity within conferences

    Someone step in and force this on the college hockey world.

    Otherwise why play or watch?  College hockey will end with the current plans.  College hockey is a regional phenomenon.

    notes: I wouldn’t be opposed to having Nebraska-Lincoln and NDSU-fargo come into Heartland and then just leaving OSU and PSU out to dry.