NCHA men to add Illinois-based Aurora for 2014-15 season

The NCHA announced Monday that it will add Aurora University to its men’s conference starting with the 2014-15 season.

“We are very pleased to have Aurora University as a member of the NCHA,” said NCHA commissioner Dr. G. Steven Larson in a news release. “Their leadership is committed to fielding strong, competitive intercollegiate athletics programs as is evidenced by their success and history having won the Men’s All-Sports Award five times in the past seven years, producing 160 scholar-athletes this year alone and having been honored with either the Conference Woman or Man of the Year each the last four years in the Northern Athletics Conference.

“They are working hard to build their hockey program from the ground up by bringing in quality student-athletes and an enthusiastic and dedicated coaching staff to build the foundation. They will also be bringing one of the premier ice hockey facilities to the NCHA with their home site at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, Ill.”

Aurora will become an official NCAA Division III program in 2014 and will play as a provisional member of the NCHA due to scheduling contracts between the NCHA and other conferences. In the 2015-16 season, the Spartans will play a full NCHA schedule and be eligible for the Harris Cup playoffs and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Aurora will still be eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in the 2014-15 season.

“Aurora University has a rich tradition of winning at the NCAA Division III level and we are very thankful to take that to the ice in 2014,” added Aurora head coach Ryan Buchanan. “We are excited to join the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, which is rapidly becoming one of the toughest conferences in the country. Having the opportunity to compete at the NCAA level as part of the NCHA is something we are very much looking forward to at AU.

“Our venue at Fox Valley Ice Arena is not only going to be a great place to host college hockey, but also help continue to grow our great sport here in the Midwest.”