History of College Hockey
New England College Hockey is a treasured luxury to complement our brutal winters. Other than back-breaking shoveling, what provides New Englanders with a sense of pride is college hockey. The Hockey East Conference, which was established in 1984, is home to amazing teams, legendary hockey-minded coaches, and NHL Hall of Famers. In no other sport do coaches last if they do in college hockey. Jack Parker, Jerry York, Dick Umile all had 20+ year coaching careers, all with the same team. Jack Parker coached the Terriers for 40 seasons. That is unheard of in other sports. Maybe college basketball comes close, but in college hockey, coaches are loyal to their programs.
There are currently eleven teams in the Conference following Notre Dame’s exit for the Big Ten. BC, BU, UMass Lowell, UMaine, UNH, Northeastern, and Providence were all founding members in 1984. Merrimack joined in 1989, UMass Amherst in 1994, UVM in 2005, and UCONN in 2014. BC and BU have certainly dominated the conference, winning 11 and 8 Hockey East Championships respectively. UMaine, UMass Lowell, UNH, Northeastern, and Providence have all been multiple time winners. Sorry Merrimack, UMass Amherst, and UVM. Hockey East Schools have won 8 NCAA Championships, most recently the 2015 Providence College Friars.
It is not even winning the Hockey East Championship that matters to New England College Hockey fans. While fans want to see, their team succeed and go on to win National Titles, most fans watch college hockey for the spectacle of it. When you attend a college hockey game, you will see a wide vary of fans. There are little kids whose parents attended one of the schools playing, watching the mascot the entire game. The loud, obnoxious, drunk college kids, and the old season ticket holders wearing an old autographed jersey are a must see. These fans add to the spectacle of New England College Hockey; without them it would just be a hockey game. The crazy game day promotions also make up the spectacle. From bobbleheads to cowbells, fans will line up an hour before the game in the freezing cold just to get one.
Many College Hockey fans can live every part of the cycle of a college hockey fan. We are born in and die in New England and are damn proud of that. Our parents bring us to games, now we’re the drunk, fun-loving college students. Until one day we’ll be the old season ticket holder, rocking the throwback, autographed jersey.