Compiled by D3hockey.com Staff
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The schools that comprise the current ECAC Men's West, and a contingent of expansion programs will have a new conference home for men and women's hockey next fall as a group of eleven Division III institutions have created the United Collegiate Hockey Conference, a new men's and women's hockey league that will begin play in Fall 2017, Nazareth College president Daan Braveman announced on Tuesday.
“We are pleased to announce the formation of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference,” Braveman said. “We have a tremendous grouping of academic and athletic institutions, and this will be will an exciting time for our student-athletes and member institutions.”
Upon its launch next season, the league will feature ten full members for men, and nine for women. Elmira, Utica, Hobart and William Smith, King's, Lebanon Valley, Manhattanville, Chatham, Neumann, and Stevenson will place both men's and women's entries into the league's inaugural season, while Nazareth will field a men's team exclusively.
Each league will gain an additional full member in year two when the newly created men's and women's programs at Wilkes University will play an abbreviated UCHC schedule in their inaugural 2017-18 season before assuming full-fledged conference membership with a complete league schedule in 2018-19.
Braveman will be the inaugural President of the UCHC. Elmira College Vice President for Athletics Patricia Thompson will assist as the conference's Vice President and will also head up the Athletic Directors' committee for the new conference.
“Establishing a new conference was a collaborative effort on the part of all of our members," Thompson said. "Under the leadership of our Commissioner, Chuck Mitrano, we were able to move our aspirations to reality. The opportunity to incorporate our men’s and women’s programs in the same hockey conference, the infusion of new programs along with our shared commitment to provide a quality student-athlete experience were the underpinnings for creating our new and exciting UCHC alliance.“
For Mitrano, serving as the Commissioner of a Division III conference is nothing new. He holds over 20 years of service in collegiate athletics administration. Mitrano has served as Commissioner of the Empire 8 Conference for the last 15 years and is also the current president of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He is also a past President of the Division III Commissioners' Association. Even with his vast leadership experience, the Rochester-area resident looks forward to a new challenge.
“I’m honored to serve as the inaugural commissioner of the UCHC,” says Mitrano. “We have an exceptional group of institutions that will make UCHC a highly respected structure in the landscape of ice hockey. We are excited to enhance the experience for our student-athletes while representing the very best values of ice hockey.”
Fans looking for the latest on the new conference's development can follow the league on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the handle @UCHCHockey.