College hockey's last remaining independent has finally, mercifully found a home.
According to a USCHO.com report, the WCHA voted on Thursday to admit Alabama-Huntsville for the 2013-14 season. The Chargers will become the league's 10th program in 2013-14, joining Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State-Mankato and Northern Michigan.
It won't be the most glamorous of leagues, and only in college hockey does a conference comprised of two Alaska schools AND a school in northern Alabama make any sort of sense. But it works and is a big win for college hockey.
Alabama-Huntsville has been playing Division I hockey as an independent for the last two seasons following the collapse of College Hockey America. At the end, the CHA was just a four program league of Huntsville, Bemidji State, Niagara and Robert Morris. Bemidji State found a home in the WCHA, Niagara and Robert Morris joined Atlantic Hockey, while UAH was forced to eke out a NCAA Tournament-less existence as a Division I independent.
The Chargers hockey program has won two Division II National Championships in 1996 and 1998. They've also made two more Division I NCAA Tournament appearances than Hockey East newcomer UConn, having won the CHA in 2007 and 2010, earning the conference's auto-bid.
Boston College and Huntsville met for the first time in program history in the opening round of last month's Mariucci Classic. The Eagles earned a 5-2 victory over the Chargers, making Coach York the sport's all-time winningest coach.
Keeping UAH in the fold at the Division I-A level is a win for college hockey, as I'm not sure how much longer the Chargers could have continued life as a hockey independent. Kinda hard to sell recruits on playing at UAH without access to the National Tournament and dwindling home crowds in the face of tougher home scheduling. The more Division I college hockey programs, the better.
Big win for college hockey, the Alabama-Huntsville program and the WCHA.