Marquette Hockey to join NCHL DII in 2017/2018

December 28th, 2016

Article posted on NCHL website:


The Northern Collegiate Hockey League is excited to add three top teams to their ranks next season.  #4 Aurora University, #22 DePaul University, and D3 Pacific #2 Marquette University had their applications approved by the current membership in early December.  Their addition strengthens the NCHL’s mission of being a premier ACHA D2 conference, as the NCHL is now home to teams ranked 4, 5, 8, 12 and 16 in the Central Region.

Commissioner Tom Breunig is excited about the new landscape, “We have long known that our product would attract top teams, and this crop of programs proves that.”

The addition of these 3 teams will soften the loss of Waldorf University to the ACHA’s NAIA division and bring total league membership up to 9 teams. As a result, the league will keep its Regional Tournament auto-bid, reserved for the conference tournament champion, and the league’s six championship tournament spots will be hotly contested.

With an any team can win any game landscape, fans will be in for a treat next season.

Alphabetical List of New Teams:

Aurora University
Aurora University is in it’s 4th year of existence and first season as an ACHA D2 team.  They have proven themselves in a short period of time by earning the #4 spot in the Central Region Rankings. 

“The ACHA program here at Aurora has experienced a multitude of success in a short period of time.  In 2013-2014, our first full season as a member of ACHA D3, we were fortunate enough to win the Pacific Regional tournament earning a trip to Nationals,” stated Head Coach Ryan Buchanan.  “The quality of schools and programs in the NCHL is evident. We are excited about the level of competition we will get on a weekly basis in the NCHL. The strength of competition will be at its highest each weekend we take the ice.”

Coach Buchanan further added that “We are also excited to be a part of a rapidly growing young league that is on its way to becoming a top conference both in the region and nationwide. What drew is to this league was the combination of competitiveness from top to bottom along with the location being centered around the Chicagoland and Central Wisconsin area.”

Breunig commented on Aurora’s addition with, “Adding a top 5 team to your league is something every commissioner wants.  We are excited for what they bring to the league, and how they immediately strengthen everyone’s schedule.”

DePaul University
The Blue Demons are a perennially strong team in the Central Region that brings a history of regional tournament appearances to the conference.  They are currently ranked #22 and have beaten some of the best in the region.

"With the improvement of the NCHL each season and the constant upgrade of member teams, we as an organization felt that the timing was right.  The opportunity to play against these strong programs in a more structured manner, [including] playoff hockey, made sense,” said DePaul Hockey President John Cassata.

He further said that, “What drew us to the league is that it is comprised mostly of familiar teams already included in our normal schedule.  Plus, with nationals being the ultimate goal of every club, we feel that the opportunity of possibly winning an auto bid into the regional tournament through the league playoff was one that was worth pursuing.​"​

“DePaul has been on our radar since the league was formed,” said Breunig. “We are beyond excited that they decided to accept their invitation.” 

Marquette University
Marquette University is joining the NCHL after making the decision to move up to the ACHA D2 level.  The Golden Eagles are currently ranked #2 in the ACHA D3 Pacific Region with a 15-1 record.  They are also 3-1 against D2 teams; having swept #20 University of Wisconsin and splitting with #23 University of Illinois.

“In the past five seasons we have greatly improved each year including a trip to nationals and three straight trips to regionals at the D3 Pacific level,” commented Head Coach Will Jurgensen.  “Our program continues to grow with each season and...we are excited to join the NCHL because of the commitment and competitiveness of the other teams in the league.”

Jurgensen added, “We have built and strong and competitive schedule just with league games and we will be able to evaluate our own progress as a program by playing such talented teams. We are excited to compete against all member teams and look forward to the opportunity to make our own mark on the NCHL.”

Commissioner Breunig stated that, “Marquette’s tradition of winning fits nicely into our landscape.  They are a strong program that no team in our league can take lightly.  I believe we will see them in the top half of D2 Central Region teams.” 

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