In March, SNY announced a three-day hockey “festival,” centered around a four-team Division I Connecticut men’s college hockey tournament. UConn will be joined by Sacred Heart, Yale and Quinnipiac as the headliners of the event.
UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh compared the tournament to the famous Beanpot that takes place in Boston and said he hopes that this event will turn into something similar.
“I hope it really galvanizes the entire state this year and captures everybody’s attention,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s something that’s not gonna be a flash in the pan, I hope it’s something that’s here to stay. I know how special that Beanpot is to the Boston area, and there’s no reason why that tournament can’t develop into something very similar here in Connecticut.”
The Beanpot has been held annually since the 1952-1953 season, with Boston University, Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern competing in a two-day tournament in early February. Aside from the first three tournaments, the games took place at the Boston Garden until 1995 and then moved to its successor, the TD Garden, where it remains today.
Not only does this remove any semblance of home rink advantage, but it also allows for many more fans to enjoy the action in person. The old Garden had a capacity of over 14,000, and the current Garden comes in just under the 18,000 mark. None of the home arenas have a capacity of over 10,000, with Boston College’s Conte Forum being the largest at 7,884.
The Beanpot sells out most years, and Cavanaugh thinks that Connecticut Ice has the potential to draw thousands of fans as well.
“I’m not sold on it being at the home venues yet,” Cavanaugh said. “I think it should be a bigger tournament than that. Quinnipiac holds, what, 3,000 people, Yale holds 3,000 people, we certainly don’t have an arena yet that can handle it, but if and when we do that’s going to be a 3,000-seat arena. I think it’s something that should definitely be played here at the XL Center and Bridgeport. … I think it’s a 9,000 people event, there should be 9,000 people there at that event. If it’s the type of event I think it can grow to be, I think it’s built for a bigger arena.”
Webster Bank Arena, where the tournament will be held this upcoming season, holds over 8,000 people for hockey games, and the XL Center has a capacity of over 14,000. Out of the four teams participating in Connecticut Ice, only two schools have on-campus arenas (Sacred Heart plays at Webster Bank Arena and UConn plays at the XL Center), and neither of them even hold over 4,000 people.
To Adam Karashik, a junior, alternate captain and the only athlete from Connecticut on the UConn men’s hockey team, it’s something that is going to be really good for the state.
“I know that we’re all excited for that, and especially being from Connecticut and always being a little bit jealous of the Beanpot and Boston,” Karashik said. “I think it’s cool that they’re starting that up and I think it can really grow, because there’s a ton of hockey and a ton of youth programs in Connecticut, and it’s really big for Connecticut youth hockey. I think it’s going to be special, and it’s going to be awesome playing with those other schools because we want to be the top of the top in Connecticut and it’s a chance for us to show that and prove ourselves.”
Connecticut Ice is scheduled to take place from Jan. 24-26, with the first round of the NCAA tournament taking place on Sat., Jan. 25, and the championship and consolation game taking place on Sun., Jan. 26. All the games will take place at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport and be broadcast live on SNY.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31.