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Big Ten Hockey Conference Announced For 2013-14

On Monday, the Big Ten announced its intention to create a hockey conference that will begin play in 2013-14. This move was expected after speculation grew last week about a potential announcement, and the Big Ten made that announcement earlier this week.

The Big Ten hockey conference will include Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Penn State. The schedule setup will include four games (two home and two away) against the other five teams in the conference. There will be a Big Ten hockey tournament played in March of each season, which will determine the conference's automatic bid for the NCAA hockey tournament.

Since only 20 games will be played as part of the conference schedule, teams will have a need to fill the rest of their schedule with more non-conference games. This is precisely why the Big Ten said in its press release that it will "proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA)." While the CCHA and WCHA will be hurt by losing some of its biggest hockey programs, it's not like Michigan, MSU and OSU will never play teams like Notre Dame and Western Michigan again. The same goes for Wisconsin and Minnesota, which will undoubtedly work to maintain their rivalries with WCHA teams.

Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota will play in their current conferences for the next two seasons. For the 2013-14 season, they will all move to the Big Ten hockey conference. The sixth member, Penn State, will begin playing Division I college hockey in 2012-13 as an independent. In 2013-14, it will join the Big Ten hockey conference, giving it six members for its launch

As of right now, it does not appear that any other Big Ten teams have plans to add Division I hockey.