By Chad Cook
Coaches, politicians, media members and representatives of various hockey entities gathered on Monday afternoon for a much-anticipated announcement: Connecticut is getting a college hockey tournament as part of an event called Connecticut Ice.
SNY President Steve Raab will be the first to clarify that this is “not Connecticut’s version of the Beanpot.” Connecticut hockey royalty, and a Little League World Series champion from Trumbull, Chris Drury starred in a video announcing the multi-day jamboree-style event.
Connecticut Ice is an annual three-day hockey celebration of youth, amateur and collegiate hockey in Connecticut that will be hosted by SNY and held at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. The inaugural celebration will take place January 24 - 26, 2020.
The goal of the event is to appeal to all generations of hockey players and fans through an array of activities and premier hockey matches, with a four-game tournament between UConn, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Yale being the marquee event.
Connecticut hockey players and fans of all ages will be thrilled to have their long desired Beanpot-esque tournament of their own and may be wondering why it took so long for this to happen. After all, the Beanpot has been a popular attraction for 67 years and is not just part of hockey history, it is New England and Bostonian lore.
In addressing the elephant in the room, of coordinating between four proud programs, Raab explained, “When we first hatched this idea, a number of people told us that these four schools would not be receptive. And what we found could not be more different.”
UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh shared a memory of his first press conference on the job, where the very first question he was asked was if there was going to be any type of state tournament between the 4 (NCAA Division-I) schools. Now that Connecticut Ice is bringing that idea to fruition, Cavanaugh is excited to “have a vehicle to galvanize hockey enthusiasts in the state.”
In the most humorous moment of the press conference, Cavanaugh played off of the technical issues that occurred at the beginning of the press conference, where the audio on the opening promo video didn’t work. He joked that he was reading lips and interpreted Drury saying he “would’ve gone to UConn if they were in Hockey East.”
Hear what was easily the funniest moment of the event as UConn Men’s Ice Hockey head coach, Mike Cavanaugh, expands on the impact Connecticut Ice will have on CT hockey and what could have been if this tournament had a storied history pic.twitter.com/EtBiLhgVrF— Storrs Central (@StorrsCentral) March 25, 2019
One coach who has long been a fan and advocate for hockey in Connecticut is Sacred Heart’s head coach CJ Marottolo. He spoke about spending his Friday and Saturday nights as a youth in North Haven “begging to go to Yale hockey games” and how Connecticut hockey fans are “deep-rooted” and have “a lot of pride.”
So it comes to no surprise that Coach Marottolo thinks Connecticut Ice is “a home run for everybody involved.” His realization that this annual event will impact “thousands and thousands of kids and families” helps solidify his position that when it comes to Connecticut Ice, “you can’t pick a better situation.”
Yale head coach Keith Allain shared an even deeper perspective and spoke about how “Connecticut has a great hockey tradition.” Coach Allain sees Connecticut Ice as a tournament which is a “great idea of its own, but when you add the festival, that puts it over the top.”
Quinnipiac sent associate head coach Bill Riga as head coach Rand Pecknold was not able to attend for a variety of stated reasons, including practice and fear of breaking NCAA rules. This explanation was perplexing as there were head coaches present from all the other D-I universities who are governed by the same NCAA regulations. And to dispel any notion that it was because of ECAC conference restrictions, Yale is in the same conference and its head coach was present. The Bobcats may be getting the visitor’s locker room next January.
SNY’s tentative schedule for the event is below:
Friday, January 24, 2020
1:00 - 4:00 PM: Mites Cross Ice Jamboree
4:30 - 6:00 PM: Girls U12 Championship
6:30 - 8:00 PM: Connecticut Prep School Championship
8:30 - 10:00 PM: Connecticut High School Championship
Saturday, January 25, 2020
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM: Squirts Boys Championship
1:30 - 3:00 PM: USA Hockey On-Ice Clinic (U12-U14; skills, checking, goaltending)
4:00 - 6:30 PM: College Tournament Game 1
7:30 - 10:00 PM: College Tournament Game 2
Sunday, January 26, 2020
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM: Peewee Boys Championship
1:30 - 2:30 PM: USA Hockey On-Ice Clinic (Girls)
3:30 - 6:00 PM: College Tournament Consolation Game
7:00 - 9:00 PM: College Tournament Championship Game