By Kim Wrona
11/8/18 — DeKalb, IL | Northern Illinois University Hockey is proud to announce that the Huskies will be moving up to ACHA Division 1 starting the 2019-2020 season. They also will be joining a brand-new, 7-team ACHA D1 Conference.
The conference will be called Midwest College Hockey (MCH) (www.MidwestCollegeHockey.com) and some of the 7 teams in the new conference are familiar to the Huskies, including the in-state rival Illinois State University Redbirds and current MACHA rival McKendree University Bearcats.
The teams in the conference will be:
- Northern Illinois University (Dekalb, IL)
- Illinois State University (Bloomington, IL)
- McKendree University (Lebanon, IL)
- Lindenwood University-Belleville (Belleville, IL)
- Maryville University (St. Louis, MO)
- Midland University (Fremont, NE)
- Waldorf University (Forest City, IA)
Becoming an ACHA D1 team has been something NIU Hockey has been working towards for the last several years.
“This move has been many years in the making. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes from many coaches and staff members as well as our players to make this happen.” said NIU general manager Ian Kalanges. “I am excited to see what the next 9 months brings as we prepare for this transition.”
The ACHA created the MCH due to D1 hockey’s rapid growth across the country during the last several years. In fact, there are now 60 D1 ACHA teams in the nation. The Huskies are ecstatic to be joining the ranks of the ACHA’s top division.
“The ACHA’s decision to move us up to the ACHA D1 level speaks highly of the college hockey program we have to offer student athletes. I am proud of what we have accomplished over the years and this is just the beginning. I expect our D1 team to be very competitive our first season. I also believe in short time, the MCH will be one of the strongest conferences at the ACHA D1 level.” Kalanges said.
The Huskies will not be moving their ACHA D3 team up to ACHA D2 any time soon. With that said, expect the D3 Huskies to be VERY competitive at the ACHA D3 level next season.
“We think as an organization it is best to keep our D3 team at D3 for the time being. We have looked at other college programs and the best success overall comes with an ACHA D1 and ACHA D3 setup.” Kalanges said.
Next season, the D1 Huskies will play a 20-game conference schedule. In early March, they will compete in the 3-day MCH Playoff Tournament hosted by Maryville University in St. Louis, MO; Maryville will host the playoffs due to its central location and rink availability. The D1 Huskies, in total, will play about a 34-36 game schedule and expect to be playing against some of the top ACHA D1 program’s right away
“There is a lot of energy and excitement coming out of NIU and NIU Hockey today. This is truly one of the biggest days in our programs 50+ year history.” Kalanges said.
About Northern Illinois University Hockey
Northern Illinois University (NIU) Hockey was founded in 1965 and has a long, rich history as the oldest sports club on campus. The Huskies play out of the Leafs Ice Centre and have the best fans and loudest crowds in the ACHA. The Leafs Ice Centre is one of Chicago’s state of the art ice arena’s that houses the Huskies in their pro style locker room along with coaches’ offices on site. NIU offers out of state students in state tuition rates which helps all future NIU Hockey student athletes take advantage of Illinois’s most affordable public college. To apply to NIU, visit www.niu.edu/apply/index.shtml. For more information about NIU Hockey, please visit www.niuhockey.com.