The Notre Dame men’s hockey team visited Pegula Ice Arena early this past season for a pair of games against Penn State.
It appears that will become an annual visit.
The Big Ten told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that Notre Dame will join the conference as an affiliate member in hockey for the 2017-18 season. The conference is in its third season with hockey with six members. Several other outlets are also reporting the move, and the Chicago Tribune says an official announcement will be made Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Big Ten Network Tweeted on Tuesday evening the move was official.
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Notre Dame has been a member of Hockey East for the past three seasons. Before that, the Fighting Irish played in the CCHA along with Big Ten teams Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
The Irish and Wolverines just happen to be facing each other in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in Cincinnati. Notre Dame (19-10-7 this season) is making its eighth appearance in the tournament and third in the past four years. The Fighting Irish are ranked No. 13 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll, and finished third in the Hockey East regular-season standings.
Notre Dame has a long hockey history, first meeting Michigan on the ice in 1922, and the program has made it to the Frozen Four twice (2008, 2011).
The Fighting Irish and Nittany Lions met last October in the regular-season home opener at Pegula Ice Arena, with Notre Dame taking the first meeting 7-4 and Penn State capturing the second contest 5-3. It was the first of a four-year contract between the programs, and they are expected to meet in South Bend, Ind., next season.
The Star Tribune first reported the story late Tuesday afternoon, noting the Big Ten would not comment on the possibility of an eighth affiliate team being added in time for the 2017-18 season.
The conference also has an affiliate member in men’s lacrosse, with John Hopkins a part of the conference for the past two seasons.