Jeff Jackson speaks at the press conference announcing Notre Dame hockey's joining Hockey East in 2013-14.

Notre Dame Hockey Program To Join Hockey East Beginning In 2013-14

Oct. 5, 2011

camera.gifHockey East Press Conference
camera.gifCoach Jackson Interview

Notre Dame, Ind. – The Hockey East Association and the University of Notre Dame announced today that the Fighting Irish have been accepted into the league as the 11th member school and will begin play in the 2013-14 campaign. The announcement came at a press conference on the ice at Notre Dame’s new Compton Family Ice Arena.

In making the announcement, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said, “It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference. 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 and we look forward to getting to the many details that come with this announcement.”

Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said, “We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were the critical issues of the student-athlete experience and Notre Dame’s fit with the other schools in the conference. But of special importance in this instance, was our goal of giving our hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group. Athletics at Notre Dame has always served as a platform for promoting the University.”

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson added, “We are honored and pleased to join Hockey East for the 2013-14 season. The conference is an established league with a great tradition and outstanding programs that share Notre Dame’s values. The exposure for our players and team in a major media and NHL market will be second to none. Hockey East’s commitment to playing a smaller league schedule will allow us to enhance our home and non-conference schedule with traditional western and Big Ten rivals. This will allow us to bring great games to the Compton Family Ice Arena and create a more diverse, nationally-televised schedule. We are grateful to Joe Bertagna and the Hockey East Association members for this tremendous opportunity.”

Notre Dame is currently a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and has had two stints with the CCHA during its 44 years of Division I hockey. The Irish first joined the conference from 1981-83 and then again in 1992 through the 2012-13 season. During that time, Notre Dame has won two CCHA regular-season and postseason tournament titles (2007 and 2009).

The current shift in conferences began with the Big Ten’s decision to form their own hockey league beginning in 2013-14. That started the realignment process in both the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and the CCHA that has occurred this past summer and fall.

Hockey East began as a seven-member conference with Boston College, Boston University, UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Maine and Providence College making up the original members in the inaugural season in 1984-85. The conference has added teams on three occasions prior to today. Merrimack College became the eighth member, beginning play in 1989-90, the University of Massachusetts joined in 1994-95 and the University of Vermont became the 10th team in the 2005-06 season.

Hockey East has produced seven NCAA titles since 1993 – Maine (1993, 1999), Boston University (1995, 2009) and Boston College (2001, 2008 and 2010) – including championships in three of the last four years. Overall, Hockey East teams have made 84 NCAA appearances since 1985, including 36 trips to the Frozen Four.

With the addition of Notre Dame to the conference, Hockey East now features five of the top 10 active winning coaches in college hockey. That group is led by the all-time wins leader, Jerry York of Boston College (880 wins in 39 years), and he is followed by Boston University’s Jack Parker (853 wins in 38 years) in second. New Hampshire’s Dick Umile is sixth (484 wins in 21 years), with Massachusetts bench boss Don Cahoon ninth (339 wins in 25 years), and Jackson is 10th with 323 victories in 12 seasons.

Hockey East has produced 188 All-Americans since 1985, including players such as Brian Leetch (Boston College), Paul Kariya (Maine), Chris Drury (Boston University), Brian Gionta (Boston College), Ty Conklin (New Hampshire), Chris Terreri (Providence), Ron Hainsey (UMass-Lowell) and Victor Stallberg (Vermont), all players that have gone on to careers in the National Hockey League. Former Irish volunteer assistant coach Jim Montgomery was a 1992 All-American while at Maine and South Bend native Jacques Joubert took All-America honors at Boston University.

Notre Dame has faced off against Hockey East members 69 times in the past with the Irish holding a 30-34-5 record. They have played Boston College more than any other team (30 times) and are 12-16-2 versus the Eagles. The last time Notre Dame faced Hockey East teams came in the 2011 NCAA Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., with the Irish taking wins over Merrimack (4-3 in ot) and New Hampshire (2-1) to advance to their second appearance in the Frozen Four last April.

This season, Notre Dame will face three Hockey East squads during the regular season, all at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Boston College visits on Nov. 18 for the “Dedication Game.” Northeastern will be in Michiana on Dec. 2-3 and Boston University comes to town on New Year’s Eve.