NEWHA announces intent to be recognized as NCAA national collegiate women’s hockey conference

 (Tim Brule)

The New England Women’s Hockey Alliance formally announced its intent to be recognized as an NCAA national collegiate women’s hockey conference in a joint announcement Wednesday.

Comprised of two NCAA Division I institutions and four NCAA Division II institutions, founding members of the NEWHA include Franklin Pierce, Post, Sacred Heart, St. Anselm and St. Michael’s.

Long Island University Brooklyn is slated to join the league in 2019-20 as its sixth member.

“Long Island University Brooklyn’s addition of women’s hockey and the NEWHA’s desire to compete at the highest NCAA level is another exciting example of the growth occurring in college hockey,” said College Hockey Inc. executive director Mike Snee in a statement. “We appreciate the commitment of the NEWHA member schools to their hockey-playing student-athletes and the continued support of the NHL to assist in creating more NCAA hockey opportunities.”

Per NCAA guidelines, the women’s hockey National Collegiate championship is a combined championship opportunity open to all Division I and Division II programs that sponsor the sport.

Bob DeGregorio has agreed to serve as NEWHA commissioner. DeGregorio, who boasts 30 years of administrative experience at the Division I and Division II level, also serves as the commissioner of Atlantic Hockey and the CHA.

NEWHA administrators convened at the NHL headquarters in New York City in late July to finalize and solidify its status as an official NCAA conference and discuss organizational details. These individuals were joined by representatives from the NHL, College Hockey Inc., the Northeast-10, and the CHA for discussion regarding the growth of women’s hockey and ways to further competitive opportunities for women.

“This is a great development in the continued growth of women’s college hockey,” noted Hockey East commissioner and AHCA executive director Joe Bertagna. “This will increase the number of and quality of opportunities for female hockey players and for coaches of the women’s game. I salute Commissioner DeGregorio for his leadership in helping this come to fruition.”

“I had the pleasure of attending the NEWHA meeting [in July] in New York [and] t was exciting to be part of the discussion centered on ways to strengthen the experience and create more ice hockey opportunities at the Division I and Division II levels for young women,” added Northeast-10 commissioner Julie Ruppert. “This league will provide its current and future members both stability and growth.”

NEWHA Notables

NEWHA member institutions have unanimously agreed to adhere to NCAA Division I recruiting rules and can begin to offer athletic scholarship aid to recruits, effective with the 2019-20 academic year.

NEWHA member institutions have begun to schedule Division I opponents for 2019-20 and will continue to explore non-conference Division I scheduling opportunities moving forward.

The NEWHA was established as a scheduling alliance for the 2017-18 season during which St. Anselm director of athletics Daron Montgomery served as its executive director.

In 2017-18, the NEWHA’s inaugural season, St. Anselm earned the league’s regular-season title and Sacred Heart won the first-ever NEWHA postseason tournament championship.

The 2019 NEWHA postseason semifinal and championship games are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 and will be played at Sullivan Arena on campus at St. Anselm.

LIU Brooklyn announced the addition of women’s hockey as a varsity sport on Sept. 10, 2018, named Rob Morgan as its first head coach, and expressed its intent to join the NEWHA for the 2019-20 season.

The NEWHA league office will be incorporated and based in Winthrop, Mass.