The Plattsburgh State women's ice hockey team, which has competed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) West since the program's inaugural season in 2001-02, will be competing under a different conference banner beginning in 2017-18, as the Cardinals have joined up with four other former ECAC West members to create the Northeast Women's Hockey League (NEWHL).
The conference will consist of the five remaining institutions that comprised the ECAC West—that includes Buffalo State, SUNY Cortland, Oswego State, Plattsburgh State and SUNY Potsdam—and will maintain the NCAA automatic qualifier for at least the next two years. The NEWHL will need to add at least two more schools to keep its AQ after the 2018-19 campaign. The league's official operations will begin on July 1.
"The Northeast Women's Hockey League promises to be one of the premier conferences in the country, and we are beyond thrilled at the opportunities it is sure to provide our student-athletes," said Plattsburgh State director of athletics Mike Howard. "We take great pride in the national success our women have enjoyed over the past decade and look forward to being part of a conference with institutions who are all committed to continued excellence in and out of the classroom. The dissolution of the former ECAC West allows us to maintain our AQ for the next two years, and I am very confident in our ability to attract potential new members over the next few years as the league develops and the NEWHL establishes itself on a national level."
Tom Cranfield, the senior associate athletic director at Cortland, will serve as the first president of the NEWHL.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the growth of women's ice hockey in our region," Cranfield explained. "We want to first thank the ECAC for its commitment to women's hockey over the years and appreciate its efforts. The NEWHL will operate under the same bylaws, constitution and operating code that it has followed as the ECAC West; however, we are extremely excited to have Tom Di Camillo take over the administrative responsibilities for the conference."
Di Camillo, the commissioner of the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) and member of the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship Committee, will assume the commissioner duties of the five-team, single-sport conference.
"I am extremely excited about the opportunity to lend my experience and expertise to the NEWHL," Di Camillo said. "Our goal is to provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes."
Di Camillo brings a wealth of experience to the position. He has served on the Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship Committee for the past two years and has been the commissioner of the SUNYAC since January of 2014. Previously he served as the assistant commissioner for the Pacific West Conference; was the executive director of marketing, public relations and fundraising at Central Arizona College and served as the director of sports information at West Chester University of Pennsylvania for 16 years. He was the president of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) in 2012.
Although Di Camillo and the five SUNY institutions are full members of the SUNYAC, the NEWHL is a separate entity not affiliate with the conference. The conference's website and logo will be unveiled later this summer.
In Plattsburgh State, the NEWHL gains the most accomplished team in the history of Division III women's ice hockey, as the Cardinals have won four consecutive national titles and six overall since their inception in 2001-02. Also one of the elite teams in the history of the ECAC West, Plattsburgh captured seven conference titles, including five straight. Head coach Kevin Houle has the second-best winning percentage in the history of NCAA women's ice hockey, boasting a career record of 344-44-23 (.865) across 14 seasons behind the Cardinal bench.
"I'm excited that we will be teaming up with like-minded institutions as we start a new chapter in Plattsburgh State women's hockey," Houle said. "While we developed some rivalries during our time in the ECAC West, we look forward to starting new traditions as we enter the NEWHL. I have no doubt that we will become one of the most-respected conferences in Division III."
The NEWHL schedule will consist of 16 games with each team playing the other teams four times – two times at home and two times away. All games are scheduled for Friday and Saturdays.
The season will culminate in a four-team tournament with the top four teams making the conference playoffs in a semifinal and championship format set a week apart.
Courtesy: Plattsburgh State Athletics
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