De PERE, Wis. -- The Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association continues to grow. And this time, it will change the face of NCAA Division III hockey in the West.
The league has announced Tuesday afternoon that St. Norbert College and the College of St. Scholastica have both accepted invitations to become members of the league beginning in the 2013-14 campaign.
"This is a great and exciting day for the MCHA," league commissioner Dr. G. Steven Larson said. "We are very enthusiastic about having the College of St. Scholastica and St. Norbert College as colleagues. The strong academic and hockey tradition they bring will be an outstanding fit for our new members and the MCHA membership."
The MCHA, which will enter its 15th season of play in 2012-13, has steadily grown from a small, six-member conference back in 1998 into 10 teams when the Green Knights and Saints are added to the league slate starting in 2013-14.
"We are very pleased to have the College of St. Scholastica and St. Norbert College join the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association," MCHA Presidents Council Chair Dr. Jeffery Docking said. "Their tradition of excellence in academics and athletics will further enhance the quality and reputation of the MCHA as one of the premier conferences in NCAA Division III men's ice hockey."
"This is a monumental occasion for the MCHA and its member institutions," MCHA DASC Chair Rob Barnhill said. "We are all very excited and enthusiastic about the addition of these institutions and full-well realize that the conference title just became more difficult to obtain. St. Scholastica and St. Norbert are perfect fits for us at this time, and their membership enhances the visibility and viability of our league."
The Green Knights bring an impressive resume to the MCHA, having won NCAA Division III National Championships in 2008, 2011 and again in 2012 when they compiled a record of 21-5-5.
"This also strengthens and elevates the national reputation of the MCHA in NCAA Division III men's ice hockey, as demonstrated by SNC's consecutive national championships in 2011 and 2012, along with the national runner-up finish of Adrian College in 2011," Larson said. "This past season alone, four teams finished in the national rankings with St. Norbert at No. 1, MSOE at No. 8, Adrian at No. 11, and St. Scholastica at No. 19 [receiving votes]. In addition, Lawrence University and Marian University were ranked during the course of the year."
SNC has claimed 13 of the past 16 conference regular-season crowns it has competed for, with head coach Tim Coghlin accumulating a 19-year mark of 411-113-45.
"St. Norbert College is excited to be joining a hockey conference with a membership of liberal arts institutions with similar profiles," St. Norbert Director of Athletics Tim Bald said. "During its history, the MCHA has been very progressive in its leadership and as a result has seen the profile of the conference rise exponentially. We are excited to become a part of that and look forward to the future as a MCHA member."
The College of St. Scholastica went 15-8-5 last season and was nationally-ranked the majority of the year, rising as high as No. 11. In fact, it has gone an impressive 61-37-14 the past four seasons, finishing fifth in the country at the end of 2009, a campaign that saw CSS rise to as high as No. 2 in the polls in January of 2009.
"The College of St. Scholastica was honored to receive and pleased to accept an invitation to become a member of the MCHA," CSS Director of Athletics Don Olson said. "St. Scholastica's philosophy and competitive goals align perfectly with the other members of the conference. We look forward to a long and positive relationship with the other nine members of the MCHA."
The expansion marks the first since the start of the 2007-08 season, when Adrian College (Adrian, Mich.) and Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.) joined the ranks of the conference.
The pair of teams come to the MCHA from the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
Starting in 2013-14, the MCHA will be playing a complete 18-game round-robin schedule with a two-game series versus each team. Discussions are also underway with the commissioners of both the MIAC and WIAC regarding collaborative scheduling.
"Our student-athletes and fans can look forward to very entertaining and exciting collegiate hockey at high caliber that will encompass four states," Larson said. "Needless to say, the future of MCHA hockey looks bright as we move ahead."
Press release courtesy of MCHA Sports Information Director Chris Zills