The University of Connecticut men's hockey team will be making the conference jump from Atlantic Hockey to Hockey East for the 2014-15 season. The long-rumored move was announced last week at USCHO.com, and a welcome celebration will be held in Hartford on Friday.
"This is a historic day in the history of the University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics," said UConn Director of Athletics Warde Manuel at UConnHuskies.com. "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."
The Huskies will now offer 18 scholarships and will face-off regularly with New England schools: Boston College, Boston University, Maine, Merrimack, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Providence, UMass-Lowell and Vermont.
Their current opponents in Atlantic Hockey include: Air Force, Army, American International, Bentley, Canisius, Holy Cross, Merychurst, Niagara, Robert Morris, RIT and Sacred Heart.
The UConn program first began play in 1960-61, in an outdoor rink, and moved to the MAAC (now Atlantic Hockey) in 1998-99 when it transitioned to the NCAA Division I level.
The Huskies finished 16-19-4 overall last season.
With the change in leagues will also come a partial change of venue. UConn will still play its home non-conference schedule on campus in Storrs, Conn., at the soon-to-be revamped Freitas Ice Forum (seating of 2,000).
Hockey East conference games, however, will be contested 25 miles away in Hartford at the 15,635-seat XL Center—current home of the Connecticut Whale (AHL) and former home of the NHL's Hartford Whalers, who moved to Carolina in 1997.
"The entire UConn men's ice hockey family is very excited about this announcement," said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall, a 1985 UConn graduate and former Huskies player who is now entering his 25th season at the Husky helm.
One of his UConn teammates was Todd Krygier, who went on to a 10-year NHL career after starring for the Huskies, and also helped the Washington Capitals to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final.
Krygier remains one of the Huskies' top all-time scorers with 99 goals and 200 points. In 543 NHL games with Hartford, Washington and Anaheim from 1989 to 1998, he registered 100 goals and 243 points.
UConn's women's hockey program, which got its start in 2000-01, has been a member of the women's Hockey East league since 2002-03.
Hockey East has won four of the last five NCAA men's hockey Division I national titles, with Boston College winning three of those, including this year. Boston University won in 2009, while 2008 national runner-up Notre Dame will also join the league in 2013-14 after the Central Collegiate Hockey Association ceases operations after the upcoming season.