Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Notre Dame hockey program would be moving from Hockey East the Big Ten after next season. Those reports were confirmed on Wednesday afternoon when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick released the following statement.
It seems like the Irish are making the move mostly because of logistical reasons. Notre Dame is the only school in Hockey East that is not in the New England area. The move to the Big Ten will cut down significantly on travel time and cost. Swarbrick also pointed out that the move will also reignite some of the old CCHA rivalries the Irish once had with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
The downside of the move is that the level of competition will be a step down from Hockey East. Hockey East is considered the premier conference in college hockey with schools like Boston College, Boston University, Maine and UMass. Yes, the Big Ten does have some historically successful teams such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but since the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference in 2013-2014 some of those schools have not been too successful. Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State have all been down in that span.
The Big Ten is sending only 1 team to NCAA Tournament this year and that is Michigan. Hockey East is sending 6 teams(including ND), and that is in a tournament out of 16 teams.
After a couple of down seasons Notre Dame is looking like they are back to being the program they were for much of the late 2000s and early 2010s. The move to the Big Ten should only help that progress because they won’t have to go up against the likes of BC and Boston U. on a regular basis.
The Irish are set to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 5:30 ET against old rival Michigan. The game can be seen on ESPNU.