St. Norbert, St. Scholastica moving to MCHA for 2013-14 season

St. Norbert and St. Scholastica will join the MCHA for the 2013-14 season as part of the breakup of the NCHA, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported Monday and the MCHA confirmed Tuesday.

“This is a great and exciting day for the MCHA,” league commissioner Dr. G. Steven Larson said in a news release. “We are very enthusiastic about having the College of St. Scholastica and St. Norbert College as colleagues. The strong academic and hockey tradition they bring will be an outstanding fit for our new members and the MCHA membership.”

Conference affiliation for St. Norbert and St. Scholastica was put in limbo in February, when the five Wisconsin state schools that play in the NCHA announced they would leave the conference after the 2013-14 season to play under their all-sports conference, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Wisconsin-River Falls, Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin-Stout and Wisconsin-Superior later agreed to move up the departure to after the 2012-13 season because of scheduling issues.

Tuesday’s announcement brings the MCHA to 10 teams for the 2013-14 season. The league also includes Adrian, Concordia (Wis.), Finlandia, Lake Forest, Lawrence, Marian, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Northland.

Meanwhile, the WIAC stands to have only five schools, two fewer than is needed for a Pool A automatic bid into the NCAA Division III men’s tournament.

St. Norbert, the two-time defending Division III men’s national champion, is 55-0-2 against teams currently in the MCHA. The school has also claimed 13 of the past 16 conference regular-season crowns it has competed for, with head coach Tim Coghlin accumulating a 19-year mark of 411-113-45.

St. Scholastica has posted a winning record in five of the last seven seasons after going 19 seasons without one.

Starting in 2013-14, the MCHA will be playing a complete 18-game round-robin schedule with a two-game series against each team. Discussions are also underway with the commissioners of both the MIAC and WIAC regarding collaborative scheduling.

“Our student-athletes and fans can look forward to very entertaining and exciting collegiate hockey at high caliber that will encompass four states,” added Larson. “Needless to say, the future of MCHA hockey looks bright as we move ahead.”

On Wednesday, the NCHA women’s conference released a statement regarding the state of its conference after the moves noted above.

“The break-up of the men’s Northern Collegiate Hockey Association at the end of the 2012-13 season will not have any effect on the women’s Northern Collegiate Hockey Association,” NCHA commissioner Bill Kronschnabel. “The NCHA is a formidable NCAA Division III women’s hockey conference and will continue to play a full conference and non-conference schedule while remaining one of the five conferences nationally to have its conference playoff champion automatically qualify for the NCAA national tournament.”