SAULT STE. MARIE – As Lake Superior State University makes its journey into a new era of college hockey, the Lakers are pleased to welcome the University of Alabama-Huntsville as the 10th member of the future Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
UAH’s membership was approved Thursday by a group of member-team presidents and athletic directors at a meeting held in conjunction with the NCAA Convention in Dallas. It will be effective this fall.
WCHA men’s membership in 2013-14 currently consists of University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Northern Michigan University.
In issuing a joint statement on behalf of the Association, Dr. Richard Davenport, President of Minnesota State University, Mankato and Chair of the WCHA President’s Group, and Bruce McLeod, Commissioner of the WCHA, said “The WCHA is delighted to have reached in principle an agreement to officially welcome University of Alabama in Huntsville into the Association family as a full-time men’s member. This is a significant day for the Chargers, the community of Huntsville, the conference itself, and college hockey in general. Growing the game and assisting developing programs however possible has always been a charge of the WCHA and this is another positive evolution in our history.
“Each of our member institutions are 100 percent committed to keeping the WCHA among the premier conferences in all of collegiate athletics and our respective ice hockey programs both strong and vibrant. The University of Alabama in Huntsville is a dynamic, top-quality institution with an excellent academic and athletic reputation and without question the Chargers are going to be a great fit and a successful, contributing member.”
LSSU and UAH have met six times dating back to Jan. 14, 2005. The Lakers have a record of 3-2-1 against the Chargers, including this season’s series split Nov. 16-17 in Taffy Abel Arena.
Lake Superior State is pleased to play a role in the evolution of the college hockey landscape and the growth of the sport on a national scale.
“Athletics Director Kris Dunbar has worked very hard on our involvement in the league and we’re glad to see it taking shape,” said LSSU President Tony McLain who, along with Dunbar, was part of this week’s NCAA meeting to formalize the conference. “We’re grateful for her work, as this secures LSSU in Division 1 hockey for the coming years.”
LSSU, which spent 41 seasons in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, is preparing for its future in the WCHA by enhancing its training facilities and initiating a capital campaign for Laker Hockey. Through partnership with a generous donor, any amount donated to the recently-established Laker Hockey Challenge Fund until Sept. 30, 2013 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $250,000 and will directly support the hockey program.
LSSU looks forward to establishing new rivalries with WCHA opponents and maintaining ties with several long-time rivals, including CCHA opponents heading to other conferences. Rivalries against Bemidji State and Michigan Tech date back to the beginning of Laker hockey. Ferris State, Northern Michigan and Bowling Green State entered the picture in the 1970s, and LSSU and Alaska first met in the mid 1980s. The Lakers have played Alaska-Anchorage four times will meet Minnesota State-Mankato for the first time in 2013-14.
On March 21, 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced the formation of a new Division 1 men’s college hockey league that would include current WCHA-members Minnesota and Wisconsin and begin play in 2013-14. On July 13, 2012, Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota announced they would be leaving the WCHA following the 2012-13 season to form another new league, known as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which also begins play in 2013-14. Then on Sept. 22, 2011, St. Cloud State announced they were leaving the WCHA for the NCHC.
For more information on Laker Hockey, visit lssu.edu/athletics or lssulakers.com. -LSSU-
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