The all-time winningest coach in Gopher men's hockey history, Don Lucia, has been named the commissioner of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), the league announced Wednesday.
The CCHA, a newly formed conference that will debut in 2021, will include two Minnesota universities: Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato, along with Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan.
All seven teams announced plans earlier this year to leave the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), which will have about two years to reorganize for the second time in less than a decade – the first being the result of the Big Ten hockey league forming in 2013, which also led to the launch of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).
Lucia led the Gophers to back-to-back national championships in 2002 and 2003, and his 457 career victories at the U of M are the most in program history, more than Doug Woog, John Mariucci and Herb Brooks.
He coached the Gophers for 19 years before stepping down in March of 2018.
The new CCHA only impacts men's hockey, so the women's WCHA will not change.
The three programs not leaving the WCHA are Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville. None of them are in the same geographic footprint as the other teams located in the Upper Midwest and Ohio Valley.