Former Gopher hockey coach Don Lucia named CCHA commissioner

Former Gopher Hockey coach Don Lucia will be the first commissioner of the newly-reformed CCHA college hockey conference. The search committee made the official introduction during a video press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The new CCHA will be comprised of Bemidji State, Minnesota State and five Michigan schools. The seven schools are currently part of the WCHA, but are leaving Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks and Alabama-Huntsville behind as they reform the CCHA.

The original CCHA ran from 1971 to 2013, but dissolved when the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference triggered realignment across the landscape of college hockey in the midwest.

In February, the seven schools who will become the new CCHA announced their intention to leave the WCHA. The schools are Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan.

Lucia stressed several times in his introductory press conference the importance of having member schools committed to and financially able to support strong college hockey programs.

Concerns about funding, travel and long-term viability are largely regarded as the basis for the new CCHA members splitting off from the WCHA.

This is Lucia’s first administrative position. He coached the Gophers for nineteen years after splitting his first eleven seasons between Alaska-Fairbanks and Colorado College.

During his introductory press conference, Lucia said serving as the first commissioner as the CCHA reforms is a way for him to give back to college hockey – after it gave him so much over the course of his career.

Several reports leading up to the announcement of Lucia’s hiring had Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman and Minnesota associate athletic director Tom McGinnis as finalists for the position.