30 years of success for Hockey

The 2014 season marks the 30th anniversary for Hockey East, a conference that, since its inception in 1984, has claimed dominance over college hockey.

“Hockey East is undoubtedly the most competitive league in the country and overall fun to watch,” sophomore Dan Feldman said.

Despite competing with conferences that are more than 20 years older, Hockey East has won the highest number of national championships.

Since 1984 Hockey East teams have made 93 NCAA Tournament appearances, 38 Frozen Four appearances and have won eight National Championships.

“I truly believe that Hockey East is the premier conference in college hockey,” senior forward Connor Brickley said. “At the end of the year, Hockey East’s non-conference records are greater than any other conference’s.”

UVM fans echoed the same sentiments.

“When I watch Hockey East I can relate to the athletes because anyone who has played hockey shares the same passion for the game,” sophomore Nick Gaudreau said.

Hockey East started with seven teams, including Boston College, Boston University, UMaine, Northeastern, Providence College, UMass Lowell and the University of New Hampshire.

Merrimack joined the conference in 1989, UMass Amherst in 1994 and UVM in 2005.

The league is now comprised of 11 men’s teams with the addition of Notre Dame this 2014 season. Next season it will welcome UConn to the conference.

“They [Notre Dame] are a great program to join an already fantastic league,” head coach Kevin Sneddon said.

Brickley, a second round draft pick by the Florida Panthers, believes that adding Notre Dame was a “big step” for Hockey East this year.

“They won their conference last year and having them finish eighth in our conference this year speaks to just how hard it is to win in our league,” he said.

Division I hockey has grown in recent years. This season marked the first year for the new Big 10 Conference and National Collegiate Hockey Conference, bringing the total number of conferences to six.

Boston College holds the most Hockey East Championships with 11.

Although UVM currently holds no conference titles, they have found recent success and have appeared in the 2009 and 2010 NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Frozen Four in 2009.

“The level of competition is greater than any other conference in college hockey,” Brickley said.

“This season alone shows just how high the competition is by potentially having the most teams sent to the NCAA Tournament out of any other conference.”

“It is exciting playing for the University of Vermont,” Brickley said, “Any game at the Gut is always exciting. We have the best fan base in both Hockey East and college hockey. ”

The Cats hold an overall record of 20-14-3 for this 30th anniversary season and have earned a bid into this year’s NCAA Tournament as the 16th seed.

This is their sixth NCAA Tournament berth. They are set to face Union College Friday at 2 p.m.