MAC Hockey Relalignment: Meet your new conference! - Part I

Boston College has dominated the Hockey East recently. How well do you know their conference foes? - Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

In this three-part series, we look at the final results of the recent conference realignment shift (and proverbial death of the CCHA) and how it impacts each our 4 MAC schools' conferences. First up? UMass and the Hockey East.

With the Stanley Cup Finals on the verge of wrapping up, many hockey fans are preparing for a long, excruciating 3 month dead period in hockey before college and NHL teams pick play back up in October. For NCAA Hockey fans, most of their conferences have a new look with the recent realignment shifts caused by the creation of the Big Ten Hockey Conference up through the death of the CCHA.

For MAC fans, our 4 teams each will see at least 1 former CCHA team member join up in a new conference this season, including UMass out on the East Coast and the almighty Hockey East. Today, we will take a look at the "new look" Hockey East, which honestly is not all that affected by the realignment.

Boston College Eagles

Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
Enrollment: 14,640
National Championships: 5 (1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012)
Famous Alumni: Cory Schneider, Brooks Orpik, Stephen Gionta, Patrick Eaves

Boston College is far and away the current class of the Hockey East. With a string of 3 straight national championships in even numbered years, they are "due" for another next season. The key to their success, other than their past success, can be widely attributed to former BGSU legend coach Jerry York. York is the winningest coach in NCAA history with an insane record of 935-569-98. He has 5 national titles and is widely regarded as the best coach in the college game.

Boston University Terriers

Location: Boston, MA
Enrollment: 31,766
National Championships: 5 (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009)
Famous Alumni: Chris Drury, Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Rick DiPietro, Jack O'Callahan

Boston U was one of the better programs in the 70's especially under legendary coach Jack Parker, who retired in March following reports of a select group of Terriers acting "wildly" to say the least. Parker, who lead Boston U for 40 years, finished with a record of 897-472-115, and 3 of the national championships (was an assistant for the other two). He coached a good group of players that eventually went on to win the 1980's Olympic Gold Medal in the infamous Miracle on Ice.

Connecticut Huskies

Location: Storrs, CT
Enrollment: 27,500
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Todd Krygier

UConn technically won't join the Hockey East until 2014, but we'll still get to know them. They made the jump to D-I in 1998, and are currently playing in the AHA. They have one of the smaller hockey arenas in the nation at a measly 2,000 seat Fritas Ice Forum. First year coach Mike Cavanaugh will replace Bruce Marshall, who coached UConn through the D-I jump and through their lone conference title: a 2000 MAAC championship. Look for the Huskies to improve their play in a more prestigious conference.

Maine Black Bears

Location: Orono, ME
Enrollment: 11,222
National Championships: 2 (1993, 1999)
Famous Alumni: Paul Kariya, Gustav Nyquist, Dustin Penner, Jimmy Howard

Maine, the former "furthest outlier" from the rest of the Hockey East geographically, will also be under a new coach in 2013 after another longtime coach, this time via a firing. Maine had produced some great players in the NHL recently under Tim Whitehead, who replaced the great Shawn Walsh, who died in 2001 from kidney cancer. During their tenures, Maine was a consistent contender in the national picture, winning 2 national titles, and just missing a third in 2004. Plus, they are in Maine! I mean seriously, have you been there? Tell me how your trip was, please.

Massachusetts-Amherst Minutemen

Location: Amherst, MA
Enrollment: 27,269
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Jonathan Quick

Oh UMass! They have 1 NCAA appearance in their (apparent) 100+ year history, led by Quick that season. They almost made it to the Frozen Four as a 4-seed that season too! So close! Anyways, UMass has a lot to do to contend for anything, but occasionally make the Hockey East tournament. I'll just stop talking now.....

Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks

Location: Lowell, MA
Enrollment: 16,330
National Championships: 3 (1979, 1981, 1982 - all D-II)
Famous Alumni: No clue

UMass-Lowell was once the laughing stock of the Hockey East. Only a couple tournament appearances, not usually competitive in the Hockey East. Now, under Norm Bazin, they sit on top of the conference as both regular season and Hockey East Tournament Champions. They also advanced all the way to the Frozen Four this season. This team will be very good for the next few years it appears, as Bazin has completely changed the program around with visible success and trophies.

Merrimack Warriors

Location: North Andover, MA
Enrollment: 2,174
National Championships: 1 (1978, D-II)
Famous Alumni: Steve McKenna

Merrimack is another one of those teams that decides when they want to play or not. They went to the NCAA in 2011, but have been wildly inconsistent with their success otherwise. They generally contend for the middle of the Hockey East, but rarely for the top. But what can you expect when your campus is smaller than your arena? Gotta be hard to lure recruits to a small campus/small exposure market.

New Hampshire Wildcats

Location: Durham, NH
Enrollment: 16,025
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Ty Conklin, Rod Langway

Don't let that 0 mark fool you. UNH has been to 7 Frozen Fours without a championship and is a regular NCAA participant (they've made 15 the past 17 tournaments). The Wildcats are led by Dick Umile, who has a great record of 519-276-94. Maybe they'll finally get over the hump someday soon and win a championship. Maybe not. Either way, they are a key player in the Hockey East picture year in and year out.

Northeastern Huskies

Location: Boston, MA
Enrollment: 20,749
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Dan McGillis

Another Beanpot representative (Boston U, Boston College, and Harvard the others), Northeastern is another inconsistent team. They had a good stretch in the 80s, winning the Beanpot 4 times, and making their lone Frozen Four appearance in 1982. Since the 80s? 2 tournament appearances (including 1 in 2009), but nothing much else. Last season they finished last in the Hockey East and look to finally get back on track from yesteryear under Jim Madigan.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Location: South Bend, IN
Enrollment: 11,733
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Brett Lebda, Kyle Palmieri, Riley Sheahan

Meet the new outlier everyone! Yep, Notre Dame joined the Hockey East presumably because of their link to the Irish rich Boston area and rivalry with Boston College. Either way, the Hockey East gained a team that has been dominant recently under future Hall of Fame coach Jeff Jackson. Jackson, who led Lake Superior State to 2 national titles in the 90's, has the highest winning percentage among active coaches in D-I with an astounding .675 mark. With increased competition, it'll be interesting to see if Notre Dame can remain competitive with half of their games 12+ hours away from home.

Providence Friars

Location: Providence, RI
Enrollment: 4,585
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Hal Gill

Providence was once a good team in the 60's and 80's. Not so much since. Still, Nate Leaman is trying to revive the Friar program and get them back to their first NCAA appearance since 2001. They won the first Hockey East Tournament, so there is that! I don't have much else to say about a team that plays in Rhode Island, so let's just move on. . .

Vermont Catamounts

Location: Burlington, VE
Enrollment: 11,999
National Championships: 0
Famous Alumni: Tim Thomas, Martin St. Louis, Patrick Sharp, Viktor Stålberg, Eric Perrin

It is hard to believe that any team with that group of alumni has zero NCAA titles, but that's the facts. 2 Frozen Fours (1996 and 2009), and they had St. Louis, Perrin, and Thomas all as the class of 1997. Seriously, 2 seasons, and no championships. Wow. Anyways, they have up and down years, and finished 7th last season last year in the Hockey East. Not sure if they'll contend any season soon, but they just may. I mean geez........that line-up.........

So that is your new look Hockey East. Not much change, just Notre Dame this year and UConn next season. Got anything to add? Feel free to comment below. Up next? The dynamically changed WCHA.

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