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How we see the Big East: Providence proves conference needs hockey

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Following the realignment of the Big East in 2013, the sport of ice hockey has seemed to disappear from schools in the conference. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and UConn Huskies left and nine out of 10 Big East schools remaining were without a Division I hockey team. Sure, after the realignment (with the exclusion of St. John’s, which does not have any hockey program), every Big East school has its club ice hockey team. But one school has much more than that. Known for reigning men’s basketball Big East Player of the Year Kris Dunn, Providence has plenty of talent on the court, but what many might not know is that the Friars have talent on another surface-ice. Following their 2015 NCAA Division I Ice Hockey National Championship, the Friars are on a mission once again to show everyone that a small school in Providence, R.I, can dominate the nation on the rink.
Providence does not play in the Big East due to the lack of teams in the conference, but rather in the Hockey East, a conference based solely for ice hockey. After defeating Hobey Baker Award winner and first round NHL draft pick Jack Eichel and Boston University, the Friars have had my mind spinning about the idea of bringing hockey to the Big East. Could it happen? I think so. The Friars made a statement. Being forced to play in a separate conference away from the school’s con- ference is something that should be changed. It has started to change in other conferences, so why not the Big East? The Big Ten conference started sponsoring ice hockey in the 2013-14 season.
The Big Ten ice hockey confer- ence was comprised of six schools: Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, who joined from the disbanded Central Collegiate Hockey Association, a hockey-only conference; Minnesota and Wisconsin, who joined from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association; and Penn State, which joined after playing its first NCAA Division I season as an independent. Ice hockey has the potential to be a revenue sport. Like basketball and football, hockey is capable of bringing in money to a university. Schools like Seton Hall and St. John’s, as well as Georgetown and DePaul, could benefit from the incorporation of hockey programs. The demand for college ice hockey is up, and Providence’s performance could help guide the way for hockey to eventually find its way into the Big East.
A team currently ranked as the nation’s No. 1 college ice hockey program comes out of a school in the Big East. I never thought I would see that day, but college hockey is growing, and schools like
Penn State and Arizona State now have programs.
It only seems like a thought, but the Big East could be an ice hockey conference at some point in the future. Charlie Mule can be reached at or on twitter @Charlie_Mule.

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