St. Cloud St., W. Michigan join league

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- St. Cloud State and Western Michigan have accepted invitations from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to join the new Division I men's league when it starts play in 2013-14.

The announcement was made in separate news conferences held at the schools' respective campuses.

St. Cloud State is a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Western Michigan is in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

They will join founding members Colorado College, Denver, Miami (Ohio) University, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota in the NCHC.

"We are delighted to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference," St. Cloud State president Earl H. Potter III said Thursday. "We believe that the conference's strength of play and commitment to college hockey and student-athletes is strong and deep and we look forward to an exciting future with The National."

The new league, which was born in response to the Big Ten's fledgling hockey league taking Minnesota and Wisconsin from the WCHA, is conducting a national search for its first commissioner.

"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 to be at the forefront of the sport that allows us to pursue our goal of competing and winning at the highest level," Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.