Perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets became official on Saturday, July 1, 2017. The Big Ten announced that Notre Dame has been added as an affiliate member for men’s hockey starting in the 2017-18 season. The move brings the membership in the conference up to seven for this upcoming season.
Notre Dame will make its Big Ten debut Nov. 3-4 with a series at Ohio State.
With the addition of the Fighting Irish, schedules for each of the seven conference programs will move to a 24-game format that concludes with the 2018 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, to be held the first three weekends of March with all games taking place on the campus of the higher-seeded teams.
The 2017-18 season marks the 58th year of men’s hockey at Notre Dame. Under the guidance of head coach Jeff Jackson, the Fighting Irish have qualified for the NCAA Tournament eight times in 12 seasons, reaching the Frozen Four three times, most recently in 2017.
Notre Dame has previously shared a conference with five of the six Big Ten hockey programs. The Fighting Irish were members of the CCHA (with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) from 1992-93 through 2012-13. Prior to that, they were members of the WCHA (with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin) from 1971-72 through 1980-81.
Notre Dame hockey becomes the conference’s third sport affiliate member, following the Johns Hopkins men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The Blue Jays joined the conference in men’s lacrosse in 2015, while the women’s team opened its inaugural Big Ten season in 2017. The Big Ten is committed to broad-based sports opportunities, and the addition of affiliate members helps to support the growth of sports less broadly sponsored by Big Ten institutions.
The seven current Big Ten hockey programs have combined to record 23 national championships, 272 All-Americans and nine Hobey Baker Award winners. Michigan leads the nation with nine national championships, while Wisconsin has won six, Minnesota has claimed five and Michigan State has three.
(Big Ten Press Release)