Connecticut jumping to Hockey East, to 18 scholarships for 2014-15 season

Connecticut will leave Atlantic Hockey and join Hockey East for the 2014-15 season, sources told USCHO on Wednesday.

Hockey East confirmed the move in a press release Thursday and filled in some details.

The Huskies will play league games at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Their nonconference games will be at their on-campus arena, the Freitas Ice Forum, which also is expected to get improvements.

Connecticut also will start to offer the full 18 athletic scholarships allowed by NCAA rules. The Huskies currently do not offer athletic scholarships for men’s hockey; the school plans to add scholarships for women’s sports to comply with gender equity regulations.

Hockey East will play the 2013-14 season with 11 teams after the addition of Notre Dame, then become a 12-team league in 2014-15.

“This is one of the most historic and significant days in the history of our conference,” Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said in a statement. “We have enjoyed a terrific relationship with the University of Connecticut for more than a decade through our involvement with its women’s hockey program. Today we start a new chapter in this relationship and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Connecticut will hold a “Welcome To Hockey East” celebration and press conference on June 29 in the
atrium of the XL Center.

Among those scheduled to attend are Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford mayor Pedro Segarra, UConn president Susan Herbst, UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, Bertagna, XL Center senior vice president and GM Chuck Steedman, former UConn All-American and Hartford Whalers forward Todd Krygier and UConn head coach Bruce Marshall.

The event is free and open to the public.

Krygier and current Connecticut players will be available for autographs following the event.