On Tuesday, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna told the Associated Press what has been largely rumored for over a month now. The conference and the University of Connecticut aren't going steady yet, but the courtship has gotten pretty serious, you guys.
"Our attention is pretty focused on the University of Connecticut," Bertagna said. "There are other institutions that have had casual conversations. But I think it would be disingenuous to suggest that there is someone else, that our conversations are this far along."
Next year will be the final year that Hockey East competes as a 10 member association before Notre Dame becomes the conference's 11th program in time for the 2013-14 season. Hockey East leadership has made it very clear that expansion would likely continue until they get to a round number of programs and UConn, whose women's program is already a member of the Association, appears to be that program.
Though, upgrading men's hockey to a full scholarship league comes at a steep price:
A study commissioned by the school and released last month put the cost of upgrading the program at about $1.3 million just in scholarships, and almost $11 million to renovate the on-campus rink. It would also cost the program about $20,000 a game to play at the XL Center, according to the report by consultant Stafford Sports.
UConn hockey joined Division I in time for the 1998-99 season, kicking it in the old MAAC for the program's first five seasons before joining the Atlantic Hockey Association in 2003-04. The program has had two winning seasons since joining Division I-A and one conference tournament championship (MAAC in 2000) and no NCAA Tournament appearances. UConn does not currently offer scholarships in men's hockey as a member of Atlantic Hockey.
Boston College and UConn have never faced one another in program history. Neither have current Hockey East members Boston University or future member Notre Dame, and for good reason. UConn finished the year ranked 53rd of 58th in the final KRACH Division I Mens rankings. PairWise suicide.
Overall, UConn holds a 17-95-6 record against current Hockey East opponents, including a 1-23-0 mark against Merrimack, a 1-15-1 record against Vermont and a 0-10-0 record vs. UNH.
Sometimes I just don't know about this conference.