Student-athletes from the Saint Anselm men’s and women’s ice hockey teams organized a silent protest last week in response to reports that the college’s contract with the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) will expire after the 2016-2017 season.
Daron Montgomery, Saint Anselm Director of Athletics, confirmed these reports to The Crier.
“The New England Hockey Conference will no longer recognize Saint Anselm, Saint Michael’s, Holy Cross [women’s only], and Franklin Pierce [women’s only] as members, effective June 30, 2017,” Montgomery told The Crier.
All of the schools with which the NEHC will be cutting ties are non-Division III institutions.
Montgomery disclosed to the Crier that the Division III programs who are members of the NEHC had made the decision to make the conference exclusively Division III. This is a matter that those institutions have been discussing for several years.
The Crier made several attempts to contact NEHC officials about this matter, but did not receive a response.
The Saint Anselm varsity ice hockey teams protested on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 13 before the new student center groundbreaking ceremony, and again on the morning of Friday, Oct. 14 before the Saint Anselm College Board of Trustees were scheduled to meet at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
The protesters sported signs that read “fairness for all students” and “please do your job.”
According to senior defenseman Lawrence Taylor of the men’s ice hockey team, the objective of the protest was to make sure that college officials were discussing this situation, and to ensure the “competitiveness” in terms of scheduling for both teams in future seasons.
Currently, the NEHC is made up of predominantly Division III schools. Both Saint Anselm and Saint Michael’s men’s teams are also affiliated with the Northeast-10 Conference in Division II. There are only six men’s ice hockey teams in total in the NE-10; in fact they are the only Division II men’s ice hockey teams in all of the NCAA.
The Saint Anselm women’s ice hockey team on the other hand currently plays exclusively within the NEHC, as there are no Division II women’s ice hockey conferences.
The concern among members of both Saint Anselm varsity ice hockey teams is that, with the NEHC contract expiring, the level of competitiveness among their opponents after this season could diminish.
Montgomery addressed this concern when he told the Crier “We are presently working with our head coaches and other institutions on a competitive, attractive schedule for our ice hockey teams for the 2017-18 season and beyond.”