SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Board of Directors has annouced that the CCC will begin to oversee women's ice hockey as a championship sport beginning in 2020-21. The CCC will assume operation of a renamed Colonial Hockey Conference (CHC).
The addition of women's ice hockey was perpetuated by two big announcements within the conference – the addition of Suffolk to the league membership and current CCC member Western New England announcing it would be starting a varsity program in 2020-21. Prior to those news items, there were four CCC full members with women's ice hockey programs, all competing in the CHC. They were Endicott, Nichols, Salve Regina, and the University of New England. Suffolk and WNE will become the league's fifth and sixth members. Becker, the only remaining non-CCC member of the league, will remain in the rebranded conference as an associate. The Hawks are already CCC associate members in men's ice hockey and football. As a seven-team league, the conference will retain the automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championship.
"This is a happy day for the CHC membership and Division III Women's Ice Hockey as a whole," stated Colonial Hockey Conference Commissioner, Katie Boldvich. "This league was formed to create additional playing opportunities for programs and student-athletes whose multisport conference did not sponsor the sport. It has been a joy to watch the sport grow over the past several years and I am thankful to have been part of this initiative from the beginning along with the league's founding members. Working alonside CCC Commissioner Gregg Kaye during this transition has been seamless and I have no doubt the CCC will continue to do great things for our women ice hockey student-athletes."
The Colonial Hockey Conference was founded in the fall of 2014 by charter members; Becker College, Endicott College, Johnson & Wales University, Morrisville State College, Stevenson University, Salem State University and SUNY Canton. The league's first season of play was the 2015-16 campaign that saw Stevenson win the league's inagural championship. Several conference realignments has seen the league's membership shift over its history, but the members' commitment to the growth of the sport and providing a platform for its competitors and members have always been at the forefront of the Colonial's mission.
The addition of women's ice hockey brings the CCC's championship sport sponsorship to 19. The sport will be the fourth addition to the Conference's championship slate in the past five years. Previous additions include the 2017-18 sponsorship of women's track and field and CCC Football (absorbing operations of the New England Football Conference (NEFC)), plus adding men's ice hockey in 2016-17.
"I am so pleased that the CCC will be adding women's ice hockey to the championship sport offerings under the conference umbrella," said CCC Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye. "The presidents at each of the CCC member institutions greatly value the role that intercollegiate athletics plays in enhancing the undergraduate experience of our student-athletes. Our presidents and athletic directors have worked diligently to expand the quality competition synonymous with the CCC brand. Adding women's ice hockey to our inventory of sport offerings is a natural step in continuing our recent pattern of growth."
"I am so grateful that the CCC will be able to build upon the strong foundation and traditions that the Colonial Hockey Conference provided student-athletes from four CCC institutions since 2015," said Kaye. "CHC Commissioner Katie Boldvich has been totally supportive during the conversations that have led to the CCC's historic announcement. Katie's priority has always been promoting and growing the great sport of women's ice hockey and increasing opportunities for female student-athletes in the sport. The
CCC women's ice hockey programs and student-athletes are forever grateful for Katie's support, hard work and passion."
For the past two seasons, the CHC was granted an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Championship. Last season, Endicott won the CHC title and made the only national tournament appearance of the teams set to play in the rebranded league.
Parts of this article are courtesy of CCC Communications staff. To read the CCC release please visit cccathletics.com