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The conference has sponsored men's ice hockey since the 1977-78 season. However, the conference dates back to September 19, 1958. The conference was originally known as the New York State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NYSIAC), which later was re-designated the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) in 1963.
Enough SUNYAC schools sponsored men's ice hockey as far back as 1986-87 for the conference to get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament however, the conference started play with the 1992-93 season as all seven founding men's ice hockey members joined from the ECAC West (an 8th team Binghamton Colonials (now Binghamton Bearcats), ended its program after the 1991-92 season and later elevated its whole athletic program to Division I in 2001). However, the conference tournament dates back to 1985 (the teams were matched up based upon ECAC West results). The Buffalo State College team joined for 1993-94. During these seasons, the teams also participated in the ECAC playoffs.
The Morrisville Mustangs joined the conference for the 2007-08 season.
The Canton Kanagroos are playing as a Division III Independent as they are in the process of elevating their program to varsity status from the club level ACHA. They are believed to be eventually joining the conference over the next few seasons as the school completed a state of the art athletic facility (the SUNY Canton Athletic and Recreation Center, called the CARC on campus) in 2011 which included a hockey rink.