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Atlantic Hockey Association

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Atlantic Hockey Association
NCAA Division I Conference
AHA
Founded: 2003
Number of teams: 12
Commissioner: Robert M. DeGregorio, Jr.
Defending champions (men): Air Force Falcons
Website: http://www.atlantichockeyonline.com

Atlantic Hockey is a minor conference in NCAA Men's Division I.

Its member teams are:

Conference arenasEdit

School Hockey Arena Location Capacity
Air Force Cadet Ice Arena Colorado Springs, CO 2,502
American International MassMutual Center Springfield, MA 6,679
Army Tate Rink West Point, NY 2,648
Bentley John A. Ryan Arena Watertown, MA 1,200
Canisius HarborCenter Buffalo, NY 1,800
Holy Cross Hart Center Worcester, MA 1,600
Mercyhurst Mercyhurst Ice Center Erie, PA 1,500
Mercyhurst (alternate) Erie Insurance Arena Erie, PA 6,833
Niagara Dwyer Arena Lewiston, NY 1,400
Robert Morris 84 Lumber Arena Neville Island, PA 1,200
Robert Morris (alternate) Consol Energy Center Pittsburgh 18,387
RIT Gene Polisseni Center Henrietta, NY 4,300
RIT (alternate) Blue Cross Arena Rochester, NY 10,556
Sacred Heart Milford Ice Pavilion Milford, CT 1,000
Sacred Heart (alternate) Webster Bank Arena Bridgeport, CT 8,412
Tournament Blue Cross Arena Rochester, NY 10,556

History Edit

Despite its short tenure, Atlantic Hockey has had a tumultuous, yet relatively stable history.

The MAACEdit

In 1995, the NCAA passed a regulation requiring all schools classified at the Division I level to play all their sports at that level, if an NCAA tournament existed at that level. While mostly affecting football programs opting to play at Division III, it also affected eight Division I schools playing at the Division II/III level in hockey: Connecticut, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Iona, Fairfield, Canisius, Holy Cross and Villanova. Those schools were required to bring their programs up within four years, which would be the 1998-99 hockey season. Villanova would drop their program before that year, but the discontinuing of the Division II ice hockey tournament would see American International seeking to join the Division I ranks. The eight programs would talk to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (the all-sports home of Canisius, Iona and Fairfield, as well as CHA member Niagara), and the league agreed to form a cost-containment hockey league for the eight teams (the league still has a scholarship limit of 11) to ease the transition from Division III to Division I play. The league's first season, 1998-1999, was won by Quinnipiac, and the first tournament would be won by host Holy Cross.

Growing PainsEdit

The second season, 1999-2000, would see league membership increase to 10, as Bentley and Mercyhurst would join the league from Division II. The latter would quickly cement themselves as one of the league's top teams, while the former has struggled. It would also be a season of controversy for the fledgling league. For one, a league by-law proscribing all members, full and associate, from playing provisional NCAA programs, forced the cancellation of several games against the University of Findlay, who had not yet finished their provisional term. The black eye for the league carried over into discussions surrounding the other controversial happening to the league: the application for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Having completed all requirements for an automatic bid, the MAAC made the official application for the next season's tournament (the 1999-2000 winner, Connecticut, would be the last team to win the tournament without getting an NCAA bid); they faced a backlash from the tradition-rich hockey community (exacerbated by the Findlay controversy) about the league's unworthiness to compete at the same level as the Big Four and being "undeserving" of an automatic bid. The application, however, was approved, and the old tournament rules changed to accommodate them.

Growth, Contraction, and ChangeEdit

2000-2001 would be another year of growth for the league, as Army would defect from the CHA to the MAAC, bringing the league to 11 teams. It would also see two of the league's biggest games: the first win against a Big Four team, when Sacred Heart defeated the ECACHL's Cornell, and the MAAC's first ever NCAA tournament game, where league tournament champion Mercyhurst nearly upset Michigan. The league would stay at eleven members until the 2002-2003 season, when Fairfield and Iona both announced, within weeks of one another, that they would be dropping hockey. As this left only one all-sports MAAC member, Canisius, in the league, the remaining nine teams first applied for full voting rights in the league's administration; when that request was turned down, the teams then decided to form an independent hockey league, known as Atlantic Hockey. The new league would name as its commissioner the former Merrimack athletic director, Bob DeGregorio.

The 2004-05 season saw another shake-up in the league's membership, as Quinnipiac was accepted into the ECACHL to replace Vermont, which was shifting over to Hockey East. The league had eight teams for the 2005-06 season, and the addition of new Division I team, the RIT and the transfer of Air Force from the CHA brought the number of teams up to the current roster of 10 in 2006-07. Both of these new teams would be very successful in their first year in the league, as RIT won the regular season title, and Air Force defeated Army to win the 2007 AHA Tournament.

In 2009, with College Hockey America's viability as a men's conference in serious doubt, Atlantic Hockey agreed to take in Niagara and Robert Morris starting with the 2010-2011 season.

As a result of the NCAA Division I men's hockey realignment of the 2010's, Hockey East offered membership to the University of Connecticut, which was accepted. The school's women's program was already a member of Hockey East.  They will join Hockey East for the 2014-15 season.

Timeline of teams Edit

  • American International (1998-Present)
  • Canisius (1998-Present)
  • Connecticut (1998-2014) join Hockey East
  • Fairfield (1998-2003) dropped hockey proram
  • Iona (1998-2003) dropped hockey program
  • Holy Cross (1998-Present)
  • Quinnipiac (1998-2005) joined ECAC Hockey, which had lost Vermont to Hockey East
  • Sacred Heart (1998-Present)
  • Bentley (1999-present) program elevated to Division I, from Division II (ECAC Central)
  • Mercyhurst (1999-present) program elevated to Division I
  • Army (2000-present) joined from College Hockey America
  • Air Force (2006-Present) joined from College Hockey America
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (2006-Present) program elevated to Division I
  • Niagara (2010-Present) joined from College Hockey America when that league disbanded
  • Robert Morris (2010-Present) joined from College Hockey America when that league disbanded

List of Atlantic Hockey Champions Edit

From 1999 to 2003, the team listed was the MAAC champion.

Year Regular Season Champion Tournament Champion Tournament Runner-up
1999 Quinnipiac Holy Cross Canisius
2000 Quinnipiac Connecticut Iona
2001 Mercyhurst Mercyhurst Quinnipiac
2002 Mercyhurst Quinnipiac Mercyhurst
2003 Mercyhurst Mercyhurst Quinnipiac
2004 Holy Cross Holy Cross Sacred Heart
2005 Quinnipiac Mercyhurst Quinnipiac
2006 Holy Cross Holy Cross Bentley
2007 RIT* Air Force Army
2008 Army Air Force Mercyhurst
2009 Air Force & RIT (tie) Air Force Mercyhurst
2010 RIT RIT Sacred Heart
2011 RIT Air Force RIT
2012 Air Force Air Force RIT
2013 Niagara Canisius Mercyhurst
2014 Mercyhurst Robert Morris Canisius

* Ineligible for postseason play

Season awards Edit

External Links Edit

Official league website

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