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Notre Dame hockey program leaving CCHA for Hockey East beginning in 2013

NHL.com @NHL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame is leaving the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for Hockey East, beginning with the 2013-14 season.

The Fighting Irish announced the move Wednesday during a news conference on the ice at their brand new hockey home, the US$50 million Compton Family Ice Arena.

Notre Dame, which has been a member of the CCHA since 1992, will become the 11th member of Hockey East. Current members include Boston College, Boston University, Maine, UMass, UMass-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Providence and Vermont.

Conference realignment is shaking up college hockey.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association has invited five teams from the CCHA to join in two years, when the Big Ten starts its hockey league. The new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will also begin play that year with eight schools.

At least 18 of the 58 teams currently playing NCAA Division I hockey ? 31 per cent ? will change conferences by 2013.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the Irish considered three options ? going independent, joining the NCHC or Hockey East. Notre Dame has a huge fan base on the East Coast.

"I would say the discussions with both conferences were very detailed and very earnest," Swarbrick said. "Both had great assets, great reasons to consider them. At the end of the day I'm very comfortable with our choice. That's not to say the other option wasn't a very attractive one."

There is a bonus for the Irish and the other schools in Hockey East. Swarbrick said NBC, which has a long-standing contract to do Notre Dame home football games, announced it would begin televising Irish hockey. Details were not complete.

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