The minor conferences are the CHA and the Atlantic Hockey Association. Many of the members of these conferences are new to Division I hockey post-1998. Originally, the CHA was built with teams that needed a conference that could compete with the other traditional conferences, moreso than Atlantic Hockey. Atlantic Hockey, formerly MAAC, was built to be a cost-containment league. They allow their teams to participate at the Division I level without having to provide the full compliment of 18 scholarships that are prevalent among the major conferences.

Both the CHA and Atlantic Hockey Association have seen a great deal of upheaval during the last 5 seasons, as some members have struggled to survive financially, while others have tried to move into the higher levels of college hockey. In 2005, Quinnipiac University will move from Atlantic Hockey into the ECAC Hockey League, as it continues to expand its program.

The CHA and Atlantic Hockey both have an Automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship. The winner of each conference's tournament is the recipient of this bid.

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