DE PERE - The Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association continues to change the face of hockey in the West and Monday adds another chapter to the story that the league continues to write.
Dr. G. Steven Larson, commissioner of the league, announced Monday a new era for the conference, complete with a new name and representation of both women's and men's teams under one association.
The MCHA has continued to expand, announcing last summer that both St. Norbert College and The College of St. Scholastica will be joining the league for the 2013-14 campaign. That new era will embark with a new league name, as the MCHA will officially be moving forward as the "Northern Collegiate Hockey Association".
"We are very pleased to announce these changes as we are moving into the transitional phases of our women's and men's conferences," Larson said. "It was very important for us to respect and recognize the traditions of both associations while simultaneously moving forward with a new perspective to reflect the changes that have taken place. Needless to say, this is a very exciting period of progression for member institutions and our hockey programs."
As part of the league transition, the women's teams from the current NCHA will now be under the same conference umbrella with the men's, with each side having its own administrative structure, constitution and bylaws.
The original NCHA dates back to 1980 and includes a lengthy history that consists of 12 NCAA national championships won by six different members. There will be plenty of history to merge when this new era begins, one that most notably comes into play when you talk about the student-athletes goal of winning a championship.
On the men's side, the NCHA tournament champion will continue to play for the "Harris Cup," named after MSOE director of athletics Dan Harris, who served as the first president of the MCHA and helped get the league up and running to become what it is today.
The regular-season champion will now receive the "Peters Cup," named after Bob Peters, the long-time Bemidji State coach. Peters won 728 games and 13 national championships with the Beavers, including two NCAA titles as an early member of the NCHA back in 1984 and 1986. The Peters Cup is an NCHA tradition, as it had been handed out to the NCHA playoff championship winner since 1998.
On the women's side, the NCHA tournament champion will now play for the "Slaats Cup," named in honor of Lake Forest College director of athletics Jackie Slaats, in recognition of her efforts and dedication in pioneering the formation of the Women's NCHA.
The regular-season champion will now receive the "Kronschnabel Cup," named after Bill Kronschnabel, the commissioner of the former NCHA since 2002. He served as the NCHA Supervisor of Officials from 1998 to 2005 and also played a role in the former MCHA as its Supervisor of Officials in its early stages.
"We felt it was very important to honor and recognize the individuals who were so important in pioneering and fostering the development of the MCHA and NCHA," Larson said. "Their leadership and vision have been instrumental in the success of both associations."
Both the women and men will maintain their automatic qualifier status and continue to play for a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Men's NCHA will consist of the following 10 members: Adrian College, Concordia University, Finlandia University, Lake Forest College, Lawrence University, Marian University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Northland College, St. Norbert College and The College of St. Scholastica.
The Women's NCHA will consist of the following seven members: Adrian College, Concordia University, Finlandia University, Lake Forest College, Marian University, St. Norbert College and The College of St. Scholastica.
The league will also welcome a new logo and a new website. Immediate changes will be seen starting Monday on the league website (which will operate under the www.nchahockey.org site only moving forward), with updating and archiving changes happening into the summer.
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