The acceptance by Hockey East of Connecticut into its newly-formed women’s conference, raised some eyebrows, wondering whether it meant anything for the future of the UConn men’s program.
After all, it’s no secret Hockey East would prefer a 10-team league instead of its current nine, even if commissioner Joe Bertagna has repeatedly said the conference is not actively wooing anyone. And as a New England state school, UConn fits the profile of a Hockey East team.
But Huskies coach Bruce Marshall downplayed the significance of the move by the women’s program.
“No, it doesn’t mean anything for the men’s program directly,” Marshall said. “Just that there’s an association between Hockey East and our school, which is a positive. The more friends we have, the better life is.”
Marshall said he’s too busy competing in the MAAC to worry about aspirations of moving to Hockey East.
“I don’t think we’re at that juncture right now,” he said. “We’re trying to get a championship now that the [MAAC] has an autobid. The MAAC gives us a vehicle for what we want, which is a postseason berth. We’re very happy.
“[Hockey East] is not on our radar screen right now. We want to be as competitive as possible. It’s not like we’re blowing people away. We’re trying to get to the top of the pack in the MAAC.”
UConn, a member of the MAAC, does not grant athletic scholarships for hockey and only recently moved to a nice, but small, indoor facility. As such, hockey still has a long way to go to become ready for a major Division I conference, and Marshall isn’t pushing the issue.
“We’re going [Division] I-A in football, so there’s hurdles to cross there,” Marshall said. “I kinda stay out of it. I’m a believer, if you do a job, and do it well, people will reward you with resources. Hey, we were playing on an outdoor rink for 30-something years.”