A Connecticut Bean Pot?
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 23:10
With the NHL lockout situation getting worse, I have found solace in college hockey, which got me thinking about college hockey in the state of Connecticut. Why shouldn’t Connecticut have its own collegiate hockey tournament similar to the Beanpot?
In our state we have two hockey programs that compete at a national level. The Yale Bulldogs made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2010. Also in the 2010 season, Yale was ranked No. 1 in the college hockey poll for the first time in school history.
Down the street from Yale, the Quinnipiac Bobcats have built quite a program for themselves after joining the ECAC hockey league in 2003. Before joining the ECAC, Quinnipiac played their home games in the 2000 seat Northford Ice Pavilion. In 2007 the 3,386 seat TD Sports Center was completed and the team moved into a modern facility.
As many of you already know, the UConn Huskies joined Hockey East and will begin conference play during the 2014-2015 season, where they will face opponents like Boston College and Boston University. This got me thinking about the Beanpot tournament held annually in Boston since 1952.
The Beanpot consists of a two round tournament between the four major Boston area hockey schools: Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern and Harvard. It’s one of the greatest traditions in college hockey, as thousands of Bostonians brave harsh winter temperatures to cheer on their teams at TD Garden. There is no reason why we can’t build the same type of tradition here in the Nutmeg State.
With Yale and Quinnipiac always toward the top of the standings in ECAC play, they would be the obvious top choices for a tournament. Down in Fairfield, the Sacred Heart Pioneers have been participating in Division 1 hockey since 1998 and were one of the founding members of the Atlantic Hockey Association in 2003. They would be another great fit for a hockey tournament, as the Pioneers are no stranger to elite teams. In fact just last season Sacred Heart upset Yale 7-6 when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 8 in the nation.
Then you have the Huskies. Since UConn athletics already has a good standing relationship with the XL Center, downtown Hartford would be an obvious choice for a venue. Hartford is the capital city of our state, which makes it easily accessible by all teams including Sacred Heart, which is just an hour away from the city.
Boston has always been a hockey market from Agganis Arena, home to the BU Terriers, to the Boston Garden in the North end. But Connecticut is no stranger to the sport after being the home to the Hartford Whalers for 18 years. The Nutmeg State has also produced 28 players who have gone on to play in the NHL. As far as a trophy or tournament name, that will be left up to a creative team, although I like the sound of “The Connecticut Cup” personally.
There has been no chatter of starting such a tournament between the four teams. With UConn joining Hockey East, they will have to play a portion of their schedule at the XL Center. This would be a great opportunity for athletic director Warde Manuel to create something special not just for UConn athletics, but for the state in general. This summer at the Hockey East press conference, Manuel and others expressed excitement about UConn’s move to Hockey East. What better time to start our own New England hockey traditions.
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