Hockey fans will have to wait another full season for the Islanders to make their return to Long Island as construction on the Belmont Arena continues, but Long Island University announced last week that a men’s hockey team will be established for the 2020-21 season.
The team, according to officials, will be based at the Brookville campus, playing at a Division I level while conference configuration is being sorted out throughout the year.
“We are thrilled to be adding men’s ice hockey to the sport opportunities for our student-athletes,” LIU Athletic Director William Martinov Jr. said in a news release. “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.”
Efforts to reach Martinov for further comment were unavailing.
Last season, LIU’s women’s hockey team won the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance postseason championship in its inaugural season. The team beat top-seeded Sacred Heart in the semifinals in February and third-ranked Saint Anselm in the final to cap off a 14-18 season (11-9 in conference play).
Martinov touted the success of the head coach for the women’s team, Rob Morgan, in the news release.
“Coach Rob Morgan and his 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 our entire Shark family,” Martinov said. “We look forward to the same success for our men’s team, competing in the classroom and on the ice, representing LIU as truly exceptional student-athletes!”
Officials said it is unclear where the men’s team will play the coming season, with the coronavirus pandemic not aiding in the determination of the venue. The women’s team spent the first season splitting games between Iceworks in Syosset and Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
Martinov told Newsday the school is in talks with “a number of conferences” to analyze where the Sharks will fit best. “We’re learning about them and they are learning about us,” he told Newsday.
On Monday, the university also announced the addition of a men’s swimming program with the current head coach for the women’s team, Matthew Donovan, slated to coach the men’s team as well.
“I want to thank Dr. Bill Martinov and Lloyd Ribner for all of the hard work that they did to get us to this day and for giving me the honor to lead this new Division I program,” Donovan said in a statement. “I am confident that we can build on the great success we already have here in the water with the women’s team, and bring a highly successful men’s Division I program to the region.”