We all know that with Notre Dame now in the fold, Hockey East will look to expand to another program to round out the league at an even dozen. Plenty of possible expansion targets have been tossed around in recent weeks; everyone from the ECAC (Quinnipiac, RPI) to Atlantic Hockey (Niagara, RIT, UConn) to the non-existent (Syracuse, Rhode Island).
But could Hockey East program #12 actually be located a few miles from Chestnut Hill? The Worcester City Council seems to think so:
"Clearly, we cannot speak for Holy Cross, nor should we, nor should we try," said Germain, a Holy Cross alum and one-time hockey star there. "In the past, the Hockey East has made overtures to Holy Cross; they want Holy Cross in their league. If Holy Cross wants to do it, it would need to move its (home) games from the Hart Center because it is too small. They would have to play at the DCU Center, and that is something we as a city might be able to help the college out with.
"The economic spinoff from something like that is something to consider because hockey is huge in this city," he added "There is a lot of support in this area for Holy Cross hockey. Let's reach out to Holy Cross to see what their interest is and see how the city can work with them. They will need the help of the city, and as a city government, we should show that we are willing to facilitate their needs. Let's not miss out on this opportunity."
If the city of Worcester wants the Crusaders in Hockey East, could the Holy Cross administration be willing to make a similar jump?
Holy Cross hockey joining Hockey East makes a lot of sense. The program would have an instant Jesuit rival in Boston College (though like the recent basketball series, would likely be a lopsided one in the future) and join fellow Catholic schools Merrimack, Providence and Notre Dame in HEA. Unlike other Atlantic Hockey expansion candidates like UConn, Holy Cross has actually had some degree of success playing in the AHA, having last made the NCAA Tournament in 2006.
The downside, as Fear The Triangle points out, is that the Cross would play its home games in the DCU Center. Now I can't personally vouch for The Centrum, but I haven't exactly heard good things about the arena. It's also unclear what level of support Crusaders hockey would get from the administration and the student body. However, I'd imagine if you replaced American International, UConn, Bentley, Sacred Heart and Mercyhurst on the annual schedule with Boston College, Boston University, UMass, New Hampshire and Notre Dame that student interest in the program would improve dramatically.
Personally, I'd rather see Holy Cross, a school that seems to be a very good geographic and cultural fit with the rest of the Hockey East schools, join the conference over several other expansion options (RIT, RPI, UConn or non-existent programs at Syracuse or Rhode Island). And if Hockey East is going to pair down the number of league games to 22 (down 5 from 27) -- meaning less games against BU, Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern and UMass -- I'd rather a traditional rival of BC's take two of those scheduling slots over RIT, RPI or UConn.