It was officially announced on Wednesday that the University of Notre Dame will be joining the Hockey East conference in the 2013-2014 season, the Hockey East Association and the University of Notre Dame athletic department released in a statement.
Notre Dame will be the 11th team in the conference, and the fourth team added since Hockey East's inception in 1984. The announcement was made that Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena. Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna was in South Bend, Ind., for the official press conference.
"It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference," Bertagna said in the announcement. "The addition of new institutions is always exciting, but Notre Dame brings a unique set of qualities and circumstances to the continued growth of our league. We are proud to welcome Notre Dame into the fold."
Notre Dame is currently a member of the CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Association), which is rapidly disbanding as teams from the CCHA and WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) are making the move to join the Big Ten conference, which just established a hockey league beginning in 2013-2014.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said on Wednesday that one of the main goals in joining the Hockey East was to give his program more exposure on a national level.
"We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season," Swarbrick said. "Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were critical issues of the student-athlete experience, … but of special importance in this instance was our goal of giving out hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group."
The Fighting Irish, as UNH remembers all too well, are the team that knocked the Wildcats out of the NCAA postseason just a year ago in the NCAA Regional Northeast Finals. UNH head coach Dick Umile said after the announcement was made that adding Notre Dame to the conference brings a whole new level of exposure for every other school as well, not just UND.
"Obviously it's terrific," Umile said. "It's great national exposure. The fact that they've joined Hockey East, that says a lot for Hockey East and the program, and a university like Notre Dame to make a commitment to Hockey East I think is terrific. Obviously the [UNH] hockey program is very familiar with them – they're the preseason pick this year to win it. And we lost to them last year in the NCAA tournament to get to the Frozen Four. … I just think it's a great program, and I'm excited about it."