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College Hockey: Atlantic Hockey Association expansion talks targeting pair of New England schools

According to U.S. College Hockey Online columnist Chris Lerch, the Atlantic Hockey Association is currently in contact with four schools that have expressed interest in joining the conference following Connecticut's departure to compete in Hockey East for the 2014-15 season.

St. Anselm, Rhode Island, Navy, and Alabama-Huntsville are the main targets being considered, while other schools have inquired preliminarily if those do not work out.

The "St. A's" Hawks seem to be the most interested in joining the AHA, which was established in 2003 by nine charter members.

"We have met and the ball is in their court right now," said conference commissioner Bob DeGregorio. "They would make a great addition to the league. They have a great facility and tradition. The women’s program would also be a great addition to [College Hockey America]."

URI, based in Kingston, has formed a committee to look at costs associated with moving both genders of hockey to the Division I level and is interested in the move, despite understanding the commitment that would be needed financially. The Rams currently run one of the finest American Collegiate Hockey Association club teams in the nation and would a very formidable contender.

"We’ve drawn up an 11-team schedule and an 11-team playoff structure [for the time being]," DeGregorio said. "Another team can come sooner or later. We’ll be ready."

Joshua Kummins is the college hockey beat writer and a weekend editor for SB Nation Boston. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.