Northern Michigan granted full approval to join WCHA in 2013

The WCHA announced Wednesday that former conference member Northern Michigan will be re-joining the league starting with the 2013-14 season after being approved for membership in a conference call of league members held earlier today.

The Wildcats, who won the Division I national championship in 1991 while a member of the WCHA, were part of the league from 1984-85 through 1996-97 when they left for the CCHA.

“We couldn’t be more excited about welcoming back Northern Michigan University to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association family,” said WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod in a press release. “We were naturally disappointed when the Wildcats left the WCHA in 1997 after a successful 13-year partnership, but it’s wonderful to again have them on board as a sixth association member beginning with the 2013-14 season.

“Northern Michigan is a first-class institution with a great college hockey tradition, enthusiastic fans and a supportive community in Marquette. This is a great fit for both of us – again – and we all look forward to NMU’s highly-skilled, tenacious style of hockey further enhancing an already-great brand of WCHA hockey.”

NMU head coach Walt Kyle couldn’t be more thrilled with today’s announcement.

“This is a time of change for college hockey and that doesn’t worry me,” said Kyle in the same press release. “I think when the dust settles, college hockey will be in as good, if not better shape. It will just look a little different. I’ve been saying all along that I know NMU will be in a great hockey conference over the next two years – in the CCHA and then in the WCHA. It’s important that people know that we value our current CCHA members and hope to continue strong relationships with them in the future as part of our non-conference schedule.

“However, playing in the same conference as Michigan Tech, our next-door U.P. neighbor, will boost that ongoing rivalry. It’s always special to play the Huskies and I know the Upper Peninsula hockey fans will be excited that NMU-MTU battles will take on even greater importance being league games.”