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UConn evaluates hockey program, could it be eyeing Hockey East?

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UConn has hired a consulting firm to "evaluate the current level of support" it gives to it its hockey program, according to a statement posted to UConnHuskies.com. People who follow hockey a lot more closely than me have called the statement "cryptic" and guessed at what it might mean for UConn:

This could mean additional resources for the program to remain competitive in Atlantic Hockey (the Huskies currently do not offer scholarships); it could mean assessing what it would take for application to Hockey East, or it could mean something more ominous.

I may not follow college hockey that closely, but I do follow UConn closely enough to know that last week Jeff Jacobs spoke with interim athletic director Paul Pendergast and got this lovely little nugget of information:

[W]hile Pendergast said UConn has not been extended an offer to join Hockey East, he did say there's some evaluation going on whether to extend scholarships to men's ice hockey. In short, UConn's considering possibilities.

Long story short: this consulting firm was probably not hired to cut hockey. Even more important, Notre Dame is joining Hockey East as the conference's 11th member in 2013-2014, so if UConn ever wanted to make a jump up to hockey relevance, now would be the time. The school would have to act fast, but there is enough lead time now to make the move plausible, and though UConn doesn't have an on-campus facility for hockey, this could prove to be the first time in history that the XL Center could come in handy.