HARTFORD—Arizona State coach Greg Powers looks at the UConn men's hockey program and sees what he wants his program to be about.
The Sun Devils, previously one of the premier club hockey programs in the country, are in their first year of Division I hockey, the first of two as an independent before aligning with a conference. The next two seasons will require a lot of travel and a lot of tests against some of the premier programs in Division I.
It will also provide a lot of learning. UConn is nearing the end of its transitional phase to Hockey East, which saw a complete overhaul of the program over the last four seasons. The Huskies' impressive rise has Powers looking to what Mike Cavanaugh has done with UConn as a model for his young program.
"He's done an awesome job," Powers said after UConn's 5-1 win over Arizona State. "Some of the players he's starting to get, he's obviously got a tremendous track record with everything he did, helping to build up BC. We definitely look at UConn as a model program for us to build after in a like manner."
It will be a long process for Arizona State, but the building blocks are being aligned. The Sun Devils already have several players with Division I experience, and talented recruits are already pledging their futures to the program.
UConn's win Friday night was the first at least two games between the Huskies and Sun Devils. The two will meet Jan. 5 in Arizona State's lone Division I game on its home campus at Oceanside Ice Arena. They could meet again Jan. 10 in the championship or consolation game at the Desert Hockey Classic, the tournament the Sun Devils are hosting in Glendale, Arizona.
Powers is of the impression the relationship between the two programs will continue to grow as the programs do, with the teams potentially playing more in the future.
"We're going to," Powers said. "Cav and I talk all the time, and I think they're going to come out again next season for our Desert Classic. We're excited about building a good relationship with them, and as they build a program, we're going to get better every year, too."