UMC accepts invitation to join WCCHA

Times Report
The Minnesota Crookston hockey team will be joining the Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association beginning with the 2021-22 season.

The Minnesota Crookston hockey team has accepted an invitation to join Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association, the school and the league announced Thursday.

“We are extremely honored to be invited to join the prestigious WCCHA as a full member,” said UMC athletic director Stephanie Helgeson in a release. “I am very proud of the season Head Coach Steve Johnson and his team put together in our first season back on the ice. They represented the University and our athletic program well. By joining the WCCHA, we will be able to continue to grow our ACHA Division II hockey program and build on the traditions established by our NJCAA and NCAA programs in the past.”

The Golden Eagles recently completed their first season of play as an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Independent, going 6-7. As it was their first season of play, they were ineligible for the ACHA National Tournament.

“It will be exciting to get into a league and league play with the opportunity to compete for a league championship and the ACHA National Tournament,” said coach Steve Johnson in a release. “In addition to the great competition we will face in the WCCHA, we will also look to add 16 non-conference games next season, including opponents from ACHA Division I opponents.”

The WCCHA is an ACHA DII conference that currently consists of club teams from Bethel, Gustavus Adolphus, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, North Dakota State, St. John’s, St. Cloud State, St. Thomas, North Dakota, Winona State, Wisconsin, and Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Minnesota Crookston will be a part of the Northwest Division of the WCCHA, which also includes Bethel, Minnesota, North Dakota, North Dakota State, St. Cloud State and St. John's. 

"With the support of our membership, I am excited to welcome the University of Minnesota-Crookston into the WCCHA,” said WCCHA Commissioner Ryan Donovan in a statement. “The Golden Eagles have a storied hockey history that is now continuing in the ACHA. With fantastic support from the school and community, the program is poised for great things. We expect UM-Crookston to compete at a high level from the first puck drop, and along with our current members, continue to collectively raise the profile and quality of this level of hockey in Minnesota and beyond."

The Golden Eagles will play a 16-game WCCHA schedule, with two games against each divisional opponent and at least two series against teams from the Southeast division.

The school also said in a release that it still hopes to develop non-conference rivalries against teams it played during its first season, such as Jamestown and the University of Mary.

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