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Report: Hockey East wants Connecticut as 12th member for 2013-14

According to an Associated Press report Tuesday, Hockey East’s expansion plans include adding Atlantic Hockey member Connecticut, perhaps as early as the 2013-14 season.

The 10-member league, already in the process of adding Notre Dame for 2013, has been looking for a 12th member to ease scheduling problems.

Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said that a decision could come during a meeting of member schools in June.

“Our attention is pretty focused on the University of Connecticut,” Bertagna said in the report. “There are other institutions that have had casual conversations, but I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that there is someone else, that our conversations are this far along.”

“The window is small,” Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel added. “It is a great opportunity should it be offered to us to move into the strongest hockey league in the country.”

Manuel also said that the school would move games from the on-campus Freitas Ice Forum to the XL Center in Hartford.

“Most of our programs on campus play in that type of a high-profile league and we’d like to be on the same playing field as that,” Connecticut hockey coach Bruce Marshall said in the AP story. “They probably were worried about logistics when football was being upgraded, too. We’ve got to find a way to make this happen.

“When the door opens, you sometimes have to go through the door.”


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  • Joe C

    UConn has been given the opportunity to add Men’s Hockey to step up to the level of its basketball, football and women’s hockey programs. The other link that UConn will want to make is an alignment with Notre Dame in all sports minus football. This will help UConn to be linked with Notre Dame in the ACC if Notre Dame ends up there based on a possible collapse of the Big East.

    • Thin Ice

      It sounds like a rare opportunity.  Hopefully supporters and alumni can dig deep and make it happen.  Presently many people here in the midwest don’t think the UConn hockey program is from the same U as the more widely known UConn squeak ball programs.  Many think it’s some teeny tiny private college in NE that just has a similar name to the “big” UConn – like “Conneticut College” or something. 

      • Mike

        Who have you been talking to in the midwest?

  • guest

    Not a good fit.  Connecticut should earn their stripes in Atlantic Hocey before trying to make the jump.  Vermont was an established and successful team and has had trouble in Hockey East.  Hockey East should be taking a much harder look at maybeMercyhurst or some other scholarship school in the Northeast.

    • ritalum

      They have been getting better… they’ve done well the last two seasons in the AHA playoffs. Even took Air Force (the NCAA participant) to game three and lost in OT. Still, they’re a long way from being competative in HE.

    • Joe C

      This is a great fit. UConn is a major NCAA school (granted the new FBS-level football team is still getting its sea legs). It is the flagship program for a New England state university, just like Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, plus Lowell. It adds another decent-sized TV market and another AHL rink that can be put into the NCAA Regional rotation. It adds a Hockey East home for Connecticut hockey players, most of whom go to BU or BC if they want to play in HE. UConn is a huge school with a large and wealthy alumni base.

      Are there obstacles and logistics to overcome? Sure. But those are hockey obstacles, which smaller schools like Merrimack and Providence have shown us to be things that can be fixed.

      • guest

        Merrimack has certainly done great things to put their program at a competitive level.  We’ll see how they are at the first real turnover of talent under their current coach which is either this coming season or the next.  A lot of teams are in the cycle of good years/off years and disappears.  Hopefully Providence really is able to get back on the right track, there definitely needs to be more competition.  Do you really think a CT kid would stay in state if he could play at a top tier program?  UConn needs to build and get competitive.  Sneaking into HE is not the answer.

        • Col. Forbin

          Merrimack is a tiny school with a tiny athletic budget. UConn is a national brand that has won 3 national championships in basketball in the last 15 years and played in an Orange bowl. Furthermore it’s a major research institution and the best state school in the northeast.

          The reason they’ve been non-competitive in hockey is primarily that they have never funded it before. They have zero scholarships for their men’s hockey team, so it was basically a glorified club team. However, like Penn State, all they need to be major players is funding – to put the team on scholarships, to build better facilities, and pay for top coaches. UConn get get that kind of funding easily enough; after all, up until the mid 80s, the basketball team was an average regional team like BU or Northeastern. Then they joined the Big East and committed funds to having a nationally competitive program. There’s no real reason that can’t happen in hockey.

          • guest

            Nobody is trying to knock the quality of UConn as a school or their athletic contributions.  But they are a basketball school first and foremost, their football program is always going to be a drain on other sports (not basketball).  You can open up the scholarshps but until they build to a level of competition they are going to struggle.  It makes more sense for UConn to build up to that in Atlantic Hockey before making the jump.

          • Col. Forbin

            From Hockey East’s perspective, UConn is really the only school in the region that has the resources and the name recognition to enhance the league’s profile nationally. Once UConn decides to commit to its hockey program, and it sounds like they are ready, they are in a unique position to be an upper echelon hockey program. If you look at the other BCS schools with D1 hockey (BC, ND, all the Big 10 schools), only Ohio State isn’t a perennial tournament team. That isn’t coincidental. They have the biggest athletic budgets, which translates into the best facilities, best coaches, best recruiting, etc. There’s no ECAC team that can hang with Uconn in terms of resources, and those resources will eventually translate to a strong program. Think of it like Penn State joining a league with 4 established powerhouses. It will take a few years, but eventually they’ll be on par with the others.

          • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

            Sweetheart, I don’t want to break the bad news to you but you will be long gone from this earth before Uconn is ever an upper echelon hockey program in D1.

            They are going to be a terrible failure.  It’s going to be quite sad to watch.  I just hope the league is able to kick them out like the Big East did to Temple for being such a mess (similarly played off campus in a pro facility).

          • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

             Basketball championships and a trip to a bowl game by playing in a terrible league isn’t going to help the Uconn hockey team win any games.  Let’s just put that on the table and leave it there now so people can stop repeating such a stupid concept.

        • YuppieScum

          Hockey is the #1 sports program at Merrimack. It will never be higher than 4th at UConn.

      • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

        TV market for a sport that no one watches.  Yes, very relevant and important.  We need to get those tv ratings up so instead of having 200 people watch it we get 12 more people in Hartford and 212 people watch that killer Uconn-Merrimack game. 

  • Spanky

    This move will open up a 12th spot in Atlantic hockey conf. A perfect fit for UAH…a garbage program in a garbage league. Now everyone should be happy (except the new WCHA will have an odd number teams but not the end of the world)

    • Mike

      Alabama Huntsville in Atlantic Hockey …. Wouldn’t take them long to compete there.  Just look at Air Force, Niagara, and Robert Morris.  All 3 of those old CHA teams do just fine in Atlantic Hockey.

  • ritalum

    This is awful. Uconn doesn’t have the skill level, facilities, or fan base to make this jump. All it does is lock in other teams looking to get out of the AHA *cough*.

    • bronxbomberz41

      You know they probably said this about Merrimack and UMass-Lowell, and those two teams were really good this year.  Merrimack has sustained 3 years of quality play, and the young River Hawks look to do the same.  Its hard to recruit for new England when you have BU and BC dominating the recruiting classes, but even the addition of scholarships will help the UConn men’s program.  Don’t count them out just yet.  They may be the cellar dwellers for a few years, but I bet if they do it right, they will improve as a program, just like Merrimack and Lowell

    • Peter Gross

      This is a logical move although it is a big jump for Uconn. HE includes all the big NE state schools. Great move. For Uconn it means an upgrade on many levels. Skill will come because they will be more competitive for recruits.

  • Hockey East

    Rumors are that UCONN has a short list of coach’s and is looking to do a coaching upgrade as well if they move to HE.

    Rick Bennett-Union

    • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

      Uconn would be a terrible downgrade from Union. 

      Uconn to Hockey East is a terrible, terrible idea.  They are a big name school that is going to play in a niche of a niche sport that no one watches on tv…  it’s bad enough they added Notre Dame for television when no one watches.  Facilities are terrible so they will play in Hartford?  Upgrade plan for existing on-campus facility is minimal and it will still be a craphole facility in relation to the rest of the league.  And sure, they’ve always done well when they commit to it.  Right?  As if any of that other stuff matters.  But yes, like, maybe the 3 best teams will leave Hockey East too so they can pretend to be good like they do in football?

      STUPID!

      • bronxbomberz41

        I’m pretty sure NESN broadcasts of HE games does pretty well.  Maybe not as well as the Bruins or Sox, but people watch it.  If UNH is on NESN, you bet that at the local bars in NH will be playing that game.

      • Joe C

        If you look at it from the state of the two hockey programs (UConn v Union) today, then your arguments are valid.

        If you look to the future and growth of college hockey and Hockey East in particular, start by comparing the following differences:
        1) Size of the student body/alumni base
        2) The national name recognition
        3) Size of the television market
        4) Proximity to Boston and the other HE programs

        As for Notre Dame, the NBC Sports Network and Hockey East is enough of a reason. They are putting games on TV. Games that I can see here in Virginia. They constantly reference college and junior affiliation for the NHL playoffs. (Of course, that is a mixed bag because I have to hear about BC players too much). NBCSN gave me the first view of DU’s arena during a Denver/North Dakota game, which I watched 1,500 miles away. 

        Just because UConn is terrible at men’s hockey today means nothing. Penn State will be terrible out of the gate in BTHC, too, but you will be seeing them on your cable tv soon enough. This is the growth of our sport.

  • YuppieScum

    It’s like HEA ref makeup-call. Add one great program, add one crappy one to balance it out.

    • steel country hockey

      “When the door opens, you sometimes have to go through the door.”  Wow… great quote.

  • Jim

    I hope that they eventually plan to get a on-campus facility or it wont work.

  • Blueline892910

    Sadly it is going to happen,but UConn is NOT a Hockey School…they need a New Arena…a program that is dedicated to the game and they are NOT….just a bad move by H.E.

  • css228

    Why?

  • bronxbomberz41

    Great opportunity for UConn, great opportunity for Hockey East.  CT is a good place for Hockey, and the extra exposure to second most populous state in the region (5 of the top 10 cities in the region for population) for other HE schools will also help.  It should also help further increase the brand of college hockey in Connecticut (Yale and Quinnipiac are hard places to get into).  

    To me the move that made little sense was ND.  I don’t mean to be parochial, but Hockey East is really a New England conference.  Not only is ND out of that region, its out of the east coast, out of the time zone.  That was a pure money move to get NBC Sports exposure and because BC football and basketball has an old, imbalanced rivalry with ND (damned private catholic schools).  ND is a midwest school, really a Big 10 school, and should have joined the Big 10 hockey conference.  But because ND football spurned them in the past, there is no way the hockey team could have joined them.

    • Marine3045

      Agree about Notre Dame.This makes it harder for schools with smaller budgets to travel.  Do not want to see Hockey East blown up and see schools like Merrimack or Lowell looking for a new home.The tv contract is nice, but hockey east should have been focusing on a school closer to home.

      • bronxbomberz41

        Even schools with hockey programs that would be recognizable at a national level don’t have a huge travel budget.  UNH only goes outside of the northeast for 1, maybe 2 weekends a season.  

    • collegehockeyfan

      ND joining the Big 10 is awesome in theory, but only member schools can join the conference with the BIG 10 bilaws. 

  • Former Uconn

    I’m a former Uconn player. The main reason why they’re not competitive in AHC is because there are NO scholarships, due to Title IX. The football team gets 90 and there are no women sports that have nearly as many. Thus, they could not add any scholarships to a sport like men’s hockey. Holy Cross & Uconn, I believe, are the only D1 schools in the country that have no scholys.

    If Uconn was able to find a way to get scholys, their recruiting would be better and this would be the only chance to succeed in HE. Obviously, going to the XL Center in Hartford would be a good recruiting tool as well..

    What I’m saying is that there are reasons why Uconn has been middle of the pack in AHC. If those reasons were eliminated, they could be competitive in HE. Only time will tell…

    • ritalum

      RIT is a D3 school and can’t offer D1 scholarships either.

    • Joe C

      I am pretty sure none of the Ivies offer athletic scholarships. They circumvent this with “academic” and “need-based” scholarships, of course.

    • Joe C

      Absolutely agree that the lack of success in AHA was due to the priority that UConn gave to men’s hockey. Just like Penn State’s two new hockey programs  will have to get a lot better, since they never existed. Large state schools with an emphasis on athletics can field competitive teams in any sport. 

      While many here have joked about UConn’s BCS Bowl experience, the fact is that UConn indeed went to a BCS Bowl. That the game was terrible is beyond the point. UConn went from FCS to FBS and made a major bowl.

    • Chrisgal

       Union

  • Nick

    Good ECAC Should be for ivy league schools we need 1 more team in hockey east.  Quinnipiac University bobcats and we have it made. hockey would be solid.

  • guest

    Someone should get Pitt to promote a hockey program, good market, good pro fan base, more than a few top tier players out of that area.  Until that happens though, the smart move is to get an established school into hockey east.

  • RBTGT

    “It is a great opportunity should it be offered to us to move into the strongest hockey league in the country.”Uh, oh. Game on, WCHA.

  • ReturntoGoldCountry

    Hockey East should try and get Miami of OH as their 12th member and leave the NCHC high and dry.  They are already stretching West of OH to get Notre Dame, and going to these schools for Hockey East members is not as bad as WCHA/CCHA teams having to go to Alaska

    • Chrisgal

      Love that idea. Live in CT and hate UConn. Whining crybabies when BC left Big East, now looking to get into ACC. Eff them. Miami would be perfect and ND would have travel partner….

  • Goeast

    Uconn joining h.e. Is the right move. Besides RI all ne state university hockey are part of h.e. The uconn women’s team is also part of h.e. The men’s team has been treated like a step child for far 2 long. No scholarships, little funding. Without Bruce Marshall and his fundraising ability, the women’s team would still be club, title 9 football? And students would still be skating in an outdoor rink. The school has all it’s sports competing at the highest level. Why not men’s hockey. After all, there are many in state players going to other h.e. Schools. There are very few schools that compete at the highest level in all sports. Uconn has the chance to b part of that group

  • Badger Bill

    HEA should add either U Conn or Quinnipiac. U Conn has a huge student body but their hockey program doesn’t draw well in their current small arena.Could it the teams that they’re playing ? In Madison it’s hard to get tickets to see Minnesota or North Dakota. That’s not the case with Alaska Anchorage or Mich Tech.

    It seems like Union did okay this year without any scholarships, right ?

    Seems like CT is a state that likes hockey and might support a team, especially if they get a chance to see BC or BU every year. Case in point, it’s been reported here that western Nebraska football fans bought Wyoming season football tickets when Nebraska was on their schedule because they cannot get tickets for Lincoln.

    On the other hand, Quinnipiac (like Bemidji in the WCHA) has a recent hockey tradition of playing well against the big boys in their conference and in the NCAA tourney.