MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) has announced the addition of Johnson & Wales University, Suffolk University and Salem State University as league members effective for the 2018-19 season. Johnson & Wales and Suffolk will compete in both the men's and women's division while Salem State will compete in the women's division only.
"I am pleased to welcome these programs to the NEHC and grow both the men's and women's divisions with these additions," said NEHC Commissioner, Katie Boldvich. "Bringing Johnson & Wales, Suffolk and Salem State on board solidifies both divisions while providing extra security for the league's NCAA automatic-qualifiers. Membership continues to shift in Division III hockey and I am proud of the leadership of the NEHC Director's group in adding these programs."
Johnson & Wales and Suffolk's men's programs currently compete in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) while the women's programs of Johnson & Wales and Salem State are founding members of the Colonial Hockey Conference. Suffolk will begin the sponsorship of varsity women's ice hockey beginning in 2018.
"During an exciting time for Suffolk Athletics with the new additions of sports including women's hockey to our growing varsity athletics line-up, I'm thrilled for the invitation for both Suffolk's hockey programs to join the longstanding tradition of the New England Hockey Conference in 2018-19," stated Suffolk University Athletic Director, Cary McConnell. "To join a group of top-tier programs not only allows Suffolk to offer competitive experiences on the ice, but the NEHC's geographic footprint eliminates mid-week travel, which gives our student-athletes more time dedicated to their primary commitment – their education."
The Suffolk and Johnson & Wales men's programs both have storied histories. The Wildcats have had varsity hockey since the 1997-98 season while Suffolk has sponsored the sport since 1980-81. On the women's side Salem State and Johnson & Wales' women's programs are new additions at the varsity level. Both programs began competition in 2015-16.
"Salem State University is thrilled to be able to enter into this partnership with the NEHC. We believe the membership allows us many new and exciting opportunities, including the chance to play institutions that are more geographically proximal and whose competitive experience in the sport of Women's Ice Hockey is closer aligned to ours," echoed Salem State Director of Athletics & Recreation. "It was a tough decision to leave the Colonial Hockey Conference as Salem State is a founding member, but this is the best decision for our institution at this time. We appreciate all of the hard work provided by the other founding members of the CHC and wish them success."
"Johnson & Wales is excited and thankful to have been afforded the opportunity for our men's and women's ice hockey teams to have a home in the NEHC starting in 18-19," JWU Director of Athletics Jamie Marcoux said. "We are grateful for our time in both the CCC and Colonial Hockey Conferences, they have been wonderful leagues to be a part of and as a founding member of the Colonial we are proud to have been able to help bring another AQ to Division III women's ice hockey.
"Being a member of the same conference for our teams provides security and stability which has been a goal of ours. The institutions in the NEHC align well with our academic and athletic aspirations and makes sense geographically. The NEHC is an extremely competitive league and we are looking forward to being a member."
For more information on the NEHC visit www.nehockeyconference.com or follow the league on Twitter @NEHockeyConf.