Notre Dame, Big Ten make it official, announce ‘compelling’ move to Big Ten for ’17-18 season

Notre Dame has played three seasons in Hockey East, but after the 2016-17 season, will join the Big Ten (photo: Melissa Wade).

In breaking news reported Tuesday, Notre Dame officially announced Wednesday that its hockey program will join the Big Ten in 2017-18.

Notre Dame has been a member of Hockey East since the 2013-14 season and will continue to compete in that league for the 2016-17 season.

“While we have enjoyed our affiliation with Hockey East, the opportunity to participate in Big Ten hockey is a compelling one from the perspective of our student-athletes,” Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “The move will significantly reduce the time our team spends traveling, increase the broadcast exposure for our program and allow us to take advantage of the natural rivalries that exist with the Big Ten schools that participate in hockey.”

Hockey East also released a statement on the impending move.

“Hockey East has been a dominant player in college hockey since its inception in 1984,” Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said in the league’s statement. “The addition of both Notre Dame and the University of Connecticut enhanced the strength and depth of the league. This weekend, Notre Dame is part of Hockey East’s six-team contingent that is looking to defend the national championship won by Providence College last April in Boston. The college hockey landscape continues to change, but one certainty is that Hockey East will remain the premier conference in college hockey for years to come.”

Notre Dame will join Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin to form a seven-team hockey conference.

“Notre Dame hockey has a long history of competing with Big Ten programs and we’re pleased to renew those rivalries as part of conference hockey competition,” said Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia in a news release. “The Big Ten continues to grow the sport of hockey in our conference and the addition of Notre Dame as a sport affiliate assists in that goal.”

Prior to joining Hockey East, Notre Dame played two stints in the CCHA (1981 to 1983 and 1992 to 2013), winning both CCHA regular-season and postseason tournament titles in 2007 and 2009 and competed against Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. The Irish claimed the final CCHA playoff championship in 2013.

From 1971 to 1981, Notre Dame competed alongside Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the WCHA.

Notre Dame played two-game regular-season series against Minnesota and Penn State in 2015-16 and will renew its rivalry with Michigan on Friday at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA tournament.