STORRS – Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna proudly announced that the University of Connecticut has been offered and has accepted an invitation to join Hockey East’s men’s league as the 12th member beginning in the 2014-15. In order to comply with Atlantic Hockey Association league rules that require two years of prior notice, the Huskies will compete in that league for two more seasons before making the switch.
“This is one of the most historic and significant days in the history of our conference,” Bertagna said. “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.”
UConn first fielded a varsity men’s hockey team in 1960-61 before elevating the program to Division I status in 1998-99 as a founding member of the now-defunct Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference as well as Atlantic Hockey in 2003-04.
The Husky women’s program was a charter member of the league upon its creation in 2002, so the decision to accept UConn was taken unanimously by league coaches, athletic directors and administrators.
The University will hold a “Welcome To Hockey East” celebration and press conference at noon on Friday, June 29 in the atrium lobby of Hartford’s XL Center, which will play host to all of UConn’s home games in Hockey East league play.
Freitas Ice Forum on the Storrs campus will still serve as a secondary home for the team’s non-conference games.
“The State of Connecticut is very excited that UConn is joining Hockey East and will be bringing the passion of college hockey to downtown Hartford,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “I have been a longtime fan of college hockey and believe that this is an incredible opportunity for the University. It is also a great opportunity to bring more top-flight events to the XL Center and further enhance the quality of life in downtown Hartford.”
UConn will become the eighth institution to compete in a BCS football conference as well as a major basketball and hockey league. Those other schools with their future conference hockey affiliation are: Boston College (Hockey East), Michigan (Big Ten), Michigan State (Big Ten), Minnesota (Big Ten), Notre Dame (Hockey East), Ohio State (Big Ten) and Wisconsin (Big Ten).
“The entire UConn men’s ice hockey family is very excited about this announcement,” said head coach Bruce Marshall, who is a 1985 UConn graduate, former student-athlete and the winningest coach in program history as he enters his 25th season. “We are very grateful to the administration of the University and to the entire state for bringing Connecticut into Hockey East.”
“From our current student-athletes to our dedicated hockey alumni base, there is great anticipation about this move. I believe that there is a strong appetite for this level of college hockey here in Connecticut and that Husky fans will embrace our entry in Hockey East.”
“This is a historic day in the history of the University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics,” UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel said. “Hockey East is the premier men’s ice hockey conference in the country and we are proud to say that the Huskies are now part of it…We are committed to developing a men’s ice hockey program that can and will perform successfully on the national level and compete for Hockey East and NCAA championships.”
Next Friday’s announcement is free and open to the public. Youth hockey groups are encouraged to attend and those that work in downtown Hartford are invited to spend lunch hour celebrating with other fans and members of the UConn community.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, UConn President Susan Herbst, UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel, Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna, XL Center Senior Vice President and General Manager Chuck Steedman, former UConn All-American ice hockey player and Hartford Whaler Todd Krygier and UConn head coach Bruce Marshall are all expected to attend. The UConn pep band and cheerleaders will be in attendance in addition to the Husky mascot.