In a move first reported to be a real possibility by Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald and confirmed by Schlossman on Wednesday, at least six top college hockey programs will leave the CCHA and WCHA in 2013-14 to form a new, yet-to-be-named conference.
Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota have agreed to create the new league, Schlossman reported and Inside College Hockey confirmed. Notre Dame is considering an invitation to join the group and another team could join the Fighting Irish.
Coaches and officials from those schools have declined to comment; an official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday.
The move is the next domino to follow the formation of a Big Ten men’s hockey conference, which will draw Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State from the CCHA (plus new program Penn State).
The Big Ten’s March announcement led to widespread speculation about the future of the college hockey landscape, particularly in the CCHA. Notre Dame was considering (and indeed may still be considering) overtures from Hockey East and the WCHA, and Miami may have looked at other options as well.
Now, instead of the college hockey world awaiting Notre Dame’s decision, six other programs – which all made the 2011 NCAA Tournament – have forged ahead. Neither the CCHA nor the WCHA have commented on the reports.