St. Cloud State University has accepted an invitation to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference beginning with the 2013-14 season. The decision was announced Thursday by school President Dr. Earl H. Potter III.

 “We are delighted to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference,” Potter said in a SCSU news release. “We believe that the conference’s strength of play and commitment to college hockey and student athletes is strong and deep and we look forward to an exciting future with The National.”

(They are calling it The National? Oh my.)

 Already in the league are five other present WCHA teams -- Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska-Omaha and  North Dakota -- and Miami of the CCHA.

 “St. Cloud State was given the opportunity 22 years ago to join the WCHA,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “With our league members, we were able to build a program into national prominence and showcase our university throughout the country. We are forever grateful for this opportunity.

 “Today, the opportunity to join The National gives us the ability to continue these strong relationships with Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota and to form new partners with Miami and Western Michigan (it also accepted an invitation Thursday). We are very excited for this challenge and look forward to a new chapter in the history of St. Cloud State hockey.”

Since 1990-91, the Huskies have been members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. St. Cloud State has earned seven NCAA playoffs bids since 2000 and seven WCHA Final Five playoff bids. In 2001, the Huskies won the WCHA Final Five championship and they have advanced to the title game of the Final Five twice since 2006.

St. Cloud State will open play in its 2011-12 season on Oct. 7-8 with a trip to the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, Alaska.