St. Thomas made quick work of finding a new home.
The Division III school, located in St. Paul, Minn., announced just a couple weeks ago it had been approved by the NCAA to moves its entire athletic program to Division I.
The new-CCHA, made up of seven current WCHA schools, and starting play in 2021-22, made for a perfect fit, though there was still an approval process there.
That process came together rather quickly, with both parties announcing the union today.
“The entire membership of the CCHA is excited to welcome the University of St. Thomas as a member for the 2021-2022 inaugural season,” CCHA commissioner Don Lucia said. “St. Thomas has an outstanding academic and athletic tradition with experienced and proven leadership as they transition to Division I. St. Thomas fits nicely within the CCHA footprint and impressed us all with the level of commitment they have for their hockey program. The CCHA welcomes St. Thomas, the Twin Cities media, and hockey fans to our league.”
St. Thomas is competing in the D-III MIAC for one more season.
“We’re thrilled to receive an invitation from the CCHA, as it’s poised to create one of the most competitive hockey conferences nationally,” said Phil Esten, St. Thomas’ athletic director. “This gives us an opportunity to create strong regional intra-conference rivalries, face off against some of the most storied programs in college hockey, and develop a program that can skate with anyone in the country. Since the first conversation I had with Don Lucia, I believed this a great fit and am grateful we’ll be included in the inaugural year of the new CCHA.”
Nineteen other St. Thomas sports will be playing in the Summit League. The school’s women’s hockey program will play in the WCHA, which is remaining intact on the women’s side.
St. Thomas is sixth-oldest men’s hockey program in Division III, and holds a 1,167-671-105 (.627) all-time record with 38 consecutive winning seasons. Of those 38 winning seasons. The Tommies have captured six regular season conference championships in the last nine years.