Connecticut and Quinnipiac have been awarded membership into the newly-restructured ECAC Women’s League for 2001-2002 season.
The ECAC recently decided to re-organize itself, beginning next season. Originally, the re-organization split the current 13-team league, plus current Division-III member Colgate, into two separate leagues of eight and six. Now, the addition of UConn and Quinnipiac will create two eight-team leagues.
“The opportunity to join forces with many of the top women’s ice hockey teams in the nation is a major step forward for our first-year program,” said UConn athletic director Lew Perkins. “When we added women’s ice hockey as our 24th intercollegiate program, we made a strong commitment to play against the best teams in the country.”
Though officially still called the second of the two ECAC Women’s Ice Hockey Leagues, the one eight-team league that UConn and Quinnipiac will join has been commonly referred to in some circles as the Women’s Hockey East. All but one (Niagara) of the other six schools are part of the men’s Hockey East, including Boston College, Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence.
It is more than likely, however, that the league will not ever be officially given the Hockey East monicker.
The men’s Hockey East schools, even though, in the broad sense of the definition ECAC members, are autonomous and not under the jurisdiction of the ECAC. The new women’s league will be under the jurisdiction of the ECAC, so despite the similarities, the ECAC will likely shy away from using the Hockey East name.
The other group of eight will comprise schools whose men’s teams all currently play in the ECAC (Brown, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, St. Lawrence and Yale).
“Quinnipiac is very pleased and honored to be invited to be a member of this league,” said school athletic director Jack McDonald. “We are pleased to be part of what I think will quickly become one of the premier women’s ice hockey leagues in the country.”
Adding another angle, McDonald, who spearheaded the creation of the MAAC men’s hockey league, has in the past expressed some interest in seeing the Quinnipiac men’s program move to Hockey East at some point.