Northern Michigan using NHL-NHLPA feasibility study to explore women’s hockey potential at school

 (photo: NMU Athletics)
The NMU men’s team plays at the 3800-seat Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich. (photo: NMU Athletics).

According to several published sources, including College Hockey Inc., Northern Michigan is exploring the possibility of adding women’s hockey in the future.

NMU is the latest school to take advantage of the NHL and NHLPA feasibility study initiative designed to look at potential Division I opportunities.

“As we celebrate our 20th anniversary season of the WCHA women’s league, our top priorities are to ensure the continued success of our student-athletes and programs and to create more opportunities for future generations of women to play this great game of hockey,” said WCHA women’s commissioner Katie Million in a statement. “Simply put, no state deserves a Division I women’s hockey program more than Michigan.

“To that end, I am thrilled for the initial steps Northern Michigan University is taking to explore adding women’s hockey as a D-I sport. I applaud the vision of NMU president Dr. Fritz Erickson and athletic director Forrest Karr, both of whom have a tremendous passion for their student-athletes and a deep appreciation for what college hockey adds to a campus. The WCHA will be a resource, however possible, for Mike Snee and College Hockey, Inc., for Kevin Westgarth and the NHL, and for Northern Michigan as they continue down this path of growing the women’s game.

“Girls lacing up their skates in Marquette and elsewhere in Michigan should be able to dream of playing D-I college hockey in their home state. We are excited to see what comes next.”

Women’s hockey is among a group of sports the school is considering adding.

“Northern Michigan has been a vibrant member of the men’s college hockey community and we are excited that their leadership is considering a women’s program,” said College Hockey Inc. executive director Mike Snee in a statement. “Their addition would be particularly welcome in the state of Michigan, which has produced more than 30 Division I players this year, all of whom have to leave the state to play college hockey.”

“Adding an NCAA Division I women’s program to the state of Michigan is long overdue, and we are proud to be a part of NMU’s exploration of what would be required to do so,” NHL vice president of business development and international affairs Kevin Westgarth added. “Just by joining NMU in taking this small first step toward a women’s team in Marquette, we hope to inspire and encourage new girls, boys, and parents to join the hockey family.”

Northern Michigan is the third school to announce their participation in the NHL-NHLPA feasibility study initiative, joining Illinois and Oakland, while others have done so confidentially, according to College Hockey Inc.