Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Irish Make it Eleven

The University of Notre Dame will become the eleventh member of the Hockey East Association starting in 2013-14, the latest conference switch to occur at the NCAA Division I level this year.

The Irish had supposedly been seeking to stay out west, be it by joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, or perhaps even the revamped Western Collegiate Hockey Conference that will also take in current fellow CCHA member Bowling Green. The nascent NCHC seemed to content to remain at eight schools, however, and the Irish looked (to Hockey) East, where the rest of their athletic teams (except football) already compete. Notre Dame will continue what has already been an annual rivalry with fellow Catholic institution Boston College, while forging new ones with Boston University, Maine, New Hampshire, and the rest of the New England-based conference, which seems to put at least one school in the NCAA Frozen Four almost every season. Plus, UND is supposed to bring along NBC to televise its games, just like it has been doing for Notre Dame football for years.

Hockey East will likely add a 12th team in the future to balance things out; but whether that's Rensselear or Connecticut or even Alabama-Huntsville remains to be seen. Personally I'm hoping it's UAH, since neither the NCHC or WCHA seems keen on extending an invitation to the Chargers anytime soon, and Atlantic Hockey doesn't seem to have the financial backing to stretch itself that far geographically (unless UAH possibly agrees to pay for all opposing teams' travel to Huntsville and back).

But that's a story for another day in what has already been a wild 2011.

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