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Hockey East Welcomes UConn

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Hockey East Welcomes UConn

The University of Connecticut men’s hockey team has officially accepted an invitation to become the 12th member of Hockey East, beginning play in the 2014-2015 season.

UConn made the announcement June 28 and held a "Welcome To Hockey East,” press conference the following day in the atrium of the XL Center in Hartford. Before a standing-room-only crowd, various guest speakers, including Gov. Dannel Malloy took to the podium to welcome UConn to one of the elite college hockey conferences in the country.

“This move is great for UConn, student athletes and Hartford. I am pleased the invite came and I can’t wait for the first puck drop,” Malloy said.

Former UConn All-American Todd Krygier attended the event. Krygier is the only former Husky to play in the NHL. He was drafted by Hartford Whalers in 1988. He thanked head coach Bruce Marshall for his dedication to UConn men’s hockey.

“It has been a dream and it took the right timing. Bruce has been faithful to the program and he deserves it,” Krygier said.

The hockey team will play their conference games at the XL Center in Hartford and will continue to play out of conference opponents at their current home, the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Form in Storrs. XL Center General Manager Chuck Steedman announced that he will put a bid into Hockey East to one day host the Hockey East championship game in Hartford.

UConn athletic director Ward Manuel expressed his excitement about the programs move to Hockey East.

“Coaches and student athletes are very excited about elevating our program to the best conference in hockey nationally,” said Manuel.

This is not the first UConn athletic program to make the jump to a higher caliber competition. The football team moved to Division I-A status in 2000 which is something that Manuel would like to continue.

“From my perspective, it would be like going from 1-AA in football to the SEC, when you get invited to participate with the best and you’re a competitor like Bruce and his players, you make every opportunity to make that happen,” Manuel said.

Participating in Hockey East will bring about new changes to the program.

“We already have a plan for scholarships, but we will formalize that plan in conversations with Bruce. It’s going to be a three to four year plan,” said Manuel. “We need to elevate from being a non-scholarship program, to fulfilling scholarships in the next three to four years. Also we need to work on some of our donations as well. These are challenges that exist in many of our sports and were going to continue to elevate in everything we do, I’m glad to have that opportunity in Hockey East,” said Manuel.

Members of the current Husky squad were also in attendance and are excited about the bright future ahead of them.

“It’s really exciting; our university has done a lot of hard work to get us here,” said junior forward Billy Latta.

Hockey East has enjoyed a longstanding tradition of excellence since its inception in 1984. Over the course of 20 years, eight Hockey East teams have won the NCAA National Championship, including the most recent by Boston College. Hockey East has also been known to produce NHL caliber talent, as 32 alums have gone on to lift the most prized trophy in hockey, the Stanley Cup.

UConn has been a Division I program since the 1998-99 season and was a founding member of the Atlantic Hockey Association in 2003. UConn’s women’s hockey team has been a member of Hockey East since 2000. The Huskies will continue to play in the AHA until the 2014-2015 season.

UConn will open the regular season next year against the Minutemen of UMass, and will look to show UMass and the rest of Hockey East what UConn hockey is all about.

“It will bring a new incentive to the game, a kind of welcome; we’ll see you in two years,” Latta said.

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