The five remaining NCAA Division III institutions with women’s ice hockey programs that operated under the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) West banner—which include Oswego State, Buffalo State, Cortland, Plattsburgh and Potsdam—will wave a new flag beginning in 2017-18 as the Northeast Women’s Hockey League (NEWHL).
Tom Cranfield, the senior associate athletic director at Cortland and the president of the NEWHL, made the announcement on June 15, and the league began its official operations on July 1.
Tom 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, assumed the commissioner duties of the five-team, single-sport conference. Although Di Camillo serves as the SUNYAC commissioner, and the five SUNY institutions are full members of the SUNYAC, the NEWHL is a separate entity not affiliated with the conference.
The conference 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 automatic qualifier status after the 2018-19 campaign. The league’s five institutions include some of the strongest Division III women’s ice hockey programs in the nation.
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 league playoffs in a semifinal and championship format set a week apart. The tournament champion will receive the automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship tournament.