This community was created to bring together a collection of the most underrated fans in college sports. Duke has their "Cameron Crazies" in basketball, and Michigan may have "The Big House" in football, but very few people outside New England know what it's like to be in a Hockey East arena on a Friday night.
The Hockey East Conference was created in 1983, and held its first championship tournament in 1985. The success of the conference was established quickly, as the first championship game saw Providence College beat Boston College in double overtime 2-1, including a still-record 65 saves by PC goaltender Chris Terreri. More than 20 years later, the tournament is held in Boston every March with the winner getting an automatic bid to the NCAA National Hockey Championship Tournament.
Consistently labelled the strongest conference from top to bottom, the Hockey East Association, encompassing 10 established Division-I hockey programs, celebrates its 22nd season in 2005-06.
Hockey East has continued a steady rise to prominence since its founding charter on July 11, 1983, when the possibility of an apparent Ivy League break-off threatened the existence of the ECAC. In response, the Athletics Directors from Boston College, Boston University, New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence announced the formation of a new Division I men's ice hockey conference.
Together, William Flynn of Boston College, John Simpson of Boston University, Andy Mooradian of New Hampshire, Joe Zabilski of Northeastern, and Lou Lamoriello of Providence launched Hockey East. Lamoriello assumed the role of the league's first-ever commissioner.
Later that same summer, the Board of Directors added the University of Maine and the University of Lowell (now UMass Lowell). Official conference competition of the seven-team league began with the 1984-85 season, and expansion broadened the league to nine teams with the additions of Merrimack College (1989) and the University of Massachusetts (1993). The entry of the University of Vermont this season lifts the conference membership to 10 teams.
Since its inception, Hockey East has set new competitive standards for college hockey success, compiling an impressive .654 collective winning percentage against non-conference opponents in the last 15 seasons of play, including a record .705 during the 2002-03 frame. Over the last 13 seasons, Hockey East has cemented itself as the nation's most elite league, having earned 20 of the 52 of the berths in the NCAA Frozen Four championship tournament and boasting four NCAA title winners: the University of Maine in 1993 and 1999, Boston University in 1995 and Boston College in 2001. Three of the four Frozen Four participants in 1999 came from the Hockey East ranks.
However, it is the quality of its individual players as leading athletes that most sets Hockey East apart from the rest. A total of 61 Hockey East alums played in the NHL in 2003-04, including elite talents Tony Amonte, Bill Guerin, Brian Leetch and Keith Tkachuk, all members of the 2002 silvermedal U.S. Olympic team. Paul Kariya, who gave Hockey East its first NCAA championship when he steered Maine's offense as a freshman in 1993, captained Anaheim to a run all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2003.
Hockey East has proven to be an equally strong presence off the ice. Both in the classroom and in the community, Hockey East athletes continue to demonstrate their commitment to overall excellence. The Hockey East All-Academic Team honored a record 61 student-athletes for outstanding academic achievement during the 2004-05 campaign. Hockey East athletes also make a tremendous impact on many community service programs across the region, volunteering with numerous youth hockey associations and community service organizations. Four Hockey East athletes have received the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award, two each from the men's and women's leagues.
The reach of Hockey East continues to grow as member institutions construct new state-of-the-art facilities, increasing capacities and amenities for the growing body of college hockey fans in New England. And the fans have responded - nearly a million spectators came out to watch Hockey East teams during the 2004-05 season, including the first-ever two-day sellout crowd of 35,130 for the Hockey East championship at Boston's TD BankNorth Garden.