KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Western Michigan University has announced it is accepting an invitation to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (The National), which will begin play in the 2013-14 season. The Broncos will join Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University Nebraska Omaha, University of North Dakota and St. Cloud State University.
“We are extremely excited to formally announce to the hockey and Bronco Nation we are honored to accept membership into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference,” said WMU director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard. “This is truly another great day to be a Bronco and a historic moment for our hockey program and is another validation of how truly special our university, Western Michigan University, and our community really are. For us to align ourselves with the some of the most storied programs in Division I college hockey provides the opportunities for our student-athletes, coaches, and our terrific fan base, collectively our Hockey Broncos, to be at the forefront of the sport that allows us to pursue our goal of competing and winning at the highest level. With its membership the NCHC boasts 16 National Championships and 48 Frozen Four appearances.”
“As you might suspect, there are a great many people to thank for their efforts, assistance and consideration culminating in this announcement. While it would take considerable time to thank each party who played a positive role in this process, I would like to express, on behalf of our University, our gratitude to the existing membership of the NCHC for their careful consideration and ultimate inclusion of Western Michigan into The National. Further, on behalf of our hockey team and our athletic department, I'd like to recognize and thank our President, John Dunn and our Board of Trustees for their guidance and vision in seeing what we want our hockey program to be.”
“This is a significant day for our hockey program, our University and our community,” said President Dunn. “Today's announcement is another positive demonstration of what is right about Western Michigan University and is a clear indicator of why our University and Kalamazoo are a wonderful place to call home. We are proud to carry the flag for WMU and represent the great State of Michigan in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.”
The National officially invited Western Michigan and St. Cloud State on Wednesday.
“Both universities fit perfectly with the established goals of our conference membership,” said Brian Faison, director of athletics at North Dakota and spokesperson for the conference's Athletic Directors Committee. “Their programs are highly competitive and produce quality student-athletes. Each institution has made significant commitments to the continued success of their hockey programs and they are both located in tradition-rich hockey states. St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, with their passionate fans, will add a great deal to The
National and we look forward to welcoming them.”
This will be only the second conference WMU hockey has played in during its 38-year history. The Broncos remain a part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for the coming two seasons and look forward to returning to the challenge of earning another trip to The Joe in 2012.
“My primary concern is making sure that the Broncos play well in the CCHA this year and next year,” said first-year head coach Andy Murray. “I am excited about the prospect of playing on a nightly basis against some of the best teams in the country.”
Excitement is already buzzing about the upcoming Bronco hockey season as WMU has seen an increase in season ticket sales by 45 percent. The Broncos open the 2011-12 regular season on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. against Alabama-Huntsville. WMU hosts and exhibition game against the University of Toronto on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich.
WMU Goes to The National