After 16 years After our greatest tragedy CT can be proud
16 years to the day that Connecticut sports suffered its greatest tragedy, the death of the Hartford Whalers, Connecticut hockey fans finally had their redemption. It was a day of pride in Pittsburgh when the championship for College hockey came down to two Connecticut teams, the Quinnipiac Bobcats and the Yale Bulldogs. The Battle of Whitney Avenue was taking place in front of an entire nation who had no idea of the emotional state of the Constitution State. Sure we have the Uconn basketball teams but our greatest pride was our only pro franchise the Hartford Whalers, who were ripped from a passionate fan base that has never fully recovered. Connecticut hockey entered a dark age as it fell into the shadows of New York and Boston hockey for 16 long agonizing years. While the Whalers may never return, without question 2013 was a landmark year for Connecticut hockey. The Quinnipiac Bobcats became the number one team in the nation and put Connecticut college hockey back on the map. By the end of the Frozen Four tournament the two teams who remained were both from Connecticut. Forget Boston or Minnesota, Connecticut is now becoming the home for college hockey. You had the premier team in the land the, Quinnipiac Bobcats versus the sixteenth seeded cinderella team of the tournament, the Yale Bulldogs. Whoever won would bring the first national championship to the state and would bring a new dimension to arguably the best in state rivalry that no one could have dreamed about. As a hockey fan I thought it be incredibly if either team just made it to the Frozen Four but both teams squaring off in the finals? Talk about wildest dream scenario. The game itself was terrific with both teams playing their best hockey of the season but in the end Yale was able to pull off the upset with a 4-0 win. Yale became the lowest seed to ever when the tournament and only the fifth team to record a shutout victory over arguable the best team in the nation.
Despite the loss, The Bobcats put CT hockey on the map this season
Despite the loss the Bobcats represented the state well by being the number one team in the country for weeks and laying the ground work for even better success in the future. Now with the national recognition and the TD Bank North Center as recruiting tools it’s not hard to imagine that now QU can bring in even better players and be back in the hunt for the National Championship sooner than later. It’s amazing that a program that once was a DIII club team and that only became a DI program in 2000 was in the national championship just 13 years later. Despite losing many seniors, including star goalie Eric Hartzell the Bobcats have established themselves among hockey’s elite and now can recruit top talent by saying they are a national contenders. Yale, who became a hockey program in 1893 has added to its programs rich history by finally adding the National Championship to its incredible resume. Years after the last minor league
Yale has made New Haven the capital of college hockey
team played in the Coliseum, Yale has made New Haven the capital for college hockey. While this year was exciting whats even more exciting is the future these programs have. With the national exposure and now one of the best rivalries in college sports I truly believe that these programs best days are still ahead of them. Back in 2005 when Quinnipiac and Yale first faced off in the ECAC no 0ne could have imagined it would have led to this. Whether or a Bobcat or Bulldog fan you still have to be proud of Connecticut for what they have done to put our state on the map this season. While the Whalers have left a hole that will never be truly replaced, Yale and Quinnipiac have made hockey fans proud and given our great state some of the best college hockey. Even during the game the sound of the brass bonanza rang loud and proud from both bands and became the fight song for Connecticut once again. Finally after 16 long years the hockey gods are once again smiling over Connecticut and I have a promise for all Connecticut hockey fans. This is not an ending, this is just the beginning. Thank you Quinnipiac and Yale for the amazing ride this year and the even brighter future that lies ahead.
Quinnipiac is now #2 in the nation
Yale is # 8 in the nation
If Detroit is known as hockey town for the NHL, there is no question that Boston has been known as the college hockey town. Four college teams have dominated the bean pot region and the kings of this hockey kingdom are the Boston College Eagles and the Boston University Terriers. Both programs are perennial contenders with the Eagles winning three of the past five National Championships and the Terriers winning it all in 2009. While these two superpowers of college hockey have dominated for years Boston is also home to the Harvard Crimson and NorthEastern which have also had a major impact on college hockey. But hang on, because the power maybe shifting south and more specifically to Whitney Avenue. Only seven miles apart are two of the hottest teams in college hockey and what is fast becoming one of, if not the biggest rivalry in college hockey. The Yale Bulldogs and Quinnipiac Bobcats have always made noise in the ECAC Division but now they have roared into the national spotlight. In the most recent USCHO national poll both teams have cracked the top 10. While both have been in the top 10 before this is the first time that both schools have been in the top 10 at the same time. Both teams are riding major winning streaks and have been forces in the college hockey landscape. The Yale Bulldogs are currently riding a five game win streak and defeated both Harvard and Dartmouth this past weekend. The Quinnipiac Bobcats have remained unbeaten in their last sixteen games and have achieved the highest ranking in the University’s history as the second best team in the nation. Both Yale and Quinnipiac have dominated the national field with a combined 13-0-2 record against ranked opponents this season. This will only add fuel to an already heated rivalry as both teams still have to play each other for their annual meetings at both Ingalls Rink, and TD Bank Center. Not only are these two teams pushing Connecticut into the national picture but another college team could soon enter the race. Just by saying Uconn or Connecticut the first thing people think of is basketball. Maybe a few people might think of the Huskies football team but when asked about the hockey program most people say wait, Uconn has a hockey team? Indeed they do and the so called forgotten child in the Uconn athletic department is now making a major splash. This past weekend the Huskies played tough against the Bobcats and lost 2-1 in
Uconn is joining Hockey East in 2014
the inagural meeting between the two. Uconn made headlines this summer when it was announced that the hockey program would be getting a major overhaul. Not only would the program be joining the prestigious Hockey East conference but it would also be adding 18 scholarships for the program. Another major announcement was that for the Hockey East conference games is that the Huskies would move from the Mark Edwards Freitas Ice Forum to the XL center in Hartford. While the basketball program has the proper facilities the Hockey team doesn’t and is now exploring new options which include building a new ice rink on the Storrs campus. For the short term this is great news for the XL Center whose contract with the Connecticut Whale will expire at the end of the upcoming season and whose future is up in the air. However, the XL Center may not be the the longterm solution for the program because of it’s age and size. Uconn can just look at the blueprint Quinnipiac used for their success. The key cog in building the Quinnipiac machine came with the construction of the TD Bank Center in 2007 for 52 million dollars. The arena has been a major tool in recruitment and one of if not the major reason behind the success of the Bobcats over the past few seasons. While Connecticut has been known for the success of it’s college basketball teams, it is also famously known for losing it’s NHL franchise the Hartford Whalers in 1997, the only professional franchise the state has had. Connecticut hasn’t had the same identity since the Whalers departed for Carolina but now thee college hockey teams could put Connecticut back on the national hockey map. Now if the Huskies continue building in the right direction while Yale and Quinnipiac continue to dominate in the national field Connecticut may soon well dethrone Boston as the mecca for college hockey. Even though these hockey teams have a long way to go before the national tournament the buzz they’ve been creating cannot be ignored. Before we know it Yale or Quinnipiac may not only be in the Frozen Four, but they also may bring back the states first national championship in ice hockey.