Long Island University has one more reason to hope for the return of college sports for the fall semester. The school is adding a men’s ice hockey program for the 2020-21 school year. It will be based out of the Brookville, L.I., campus and play as a Division I independent as it seeks a conference alignment for the following year.
LIU added a women’s ice hockey program for the 2019-20 school year. The team won the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance postseason championship in February after beating No. 1 seed Sacred Heart in the semifinals and the No. 3 seed (Saint Anselm) in the final. LIU finished 11-9 in conference play, 14-18 overall.
“NCAA Division I men's hockey is one of the most exciting sports out there and we are pleased to be able to provide another opportunity for young hockey players nationwide,” LIU athletic director William E. Martinov Jr. said following LIU’s late afternoon announcement. “[The] women's ice hockey team proved this season that there is a real hunger for a chance to play hockey on Long Island, and winning a championship in their first season has been a great experience for [the school].”
Martinov said the search for a Sharks coach is nearing conclusion and “we have some top candidates and want to zero in on the right person.” He also said that the school is in negotiations with three venues to play home games.
The women’s team played its home games at Iceworks in Syosset and at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow plus had one game at the Nassau Coliseum. In discussing a venue for the men, Martinov said LIU enjoys a good relationship with the Coliseum and also would welcome the chance to play at Madison Square Garden, which annually hosts some college men’s hockey games.
NCAA Division I men’s hockey teams are permitted to offer the equivalent of 18 scholarships and LIU will be begin building out with freshmen and transfers. “We’ll find the right level on scholarships over time,” Martinov said.
As for conference alignment, the ECAC, Atlantic Hockey Association and Hockey East could all provide the Sharks with regional competition.
“We’re in conversations with a number of conferences and we want the right fit for our program,” Martinov said. “We’re learning about them and they are learning about us.”