Mike Cavanaugh has been chosen to lead the University of Connecticut hockey program into Hockey East. The former associate head coach at Boston College will be behind the bench for the Huskies' final season competing in the Atlantic Hockey Association before joining Hockey East in 2014.
Cavanaugh, a 1990 graduate of Bowdoin, has been on the coaching staff at BC for the past 18 seasons. He was Jerry York's right-hand man as the Eagles won NCAA Championships in 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012. The Hockey East regular season and tournament titles Cavanaugh helped produce is astounding.
There were over 40 applicants who showed interest in being the fourth coach in program history. According to several reports, the three finalists were Cavanaugh, former Denver coach George Gowzdecky and David Berard, who had been the interim coach at UConn.
Cavanaugh comes from the most successful program in Division I over the past decade. That was certainly a huge reason the North Andover, Mass. native was ultimately chosen. "This is a special day in our hockey program's history. His ability to establish one of the stronger programs in the country at BC is what struck me," said Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel.
Quite possibly more impressive than all the wins, trophies and players who have moved on to the NHL is the fact that Boston College has done it with solid student-athletes. "My mission here is simple, to graduate players and win championships," said Cavanaugh.
Cavanaugh will surely draw from his positive experiences at Boston College, but he emphasized the need to establish something unique and special at UConn. His new job will possess significant challenges that his old job did not. It is a lot easier to recruit to BC where the program has a rich history and tradition with numerous trophies and pictures of players who have moved on to the NHL to show off to recruits.
UConn will play Hockey East games at the XL Center in Hartford, 30 minutes away from campus. They will play non-conference games at the very small Freitas Ice Forum on campus. UConn also does not have any tradition or history in hockey. One selling point will surely be the UConn brand name. The Huskies are national powers in men's and women's basketball.
Cavanaugh will have one year to get ready for the grind of Hockey East, playing in the Atlantic Hockey Association this upcoming season. Then, come the grueling conference games against Boston College and the rest of Hockey East.
"When we play BC, I'll want to beat them bad, but I'll still play golf with Jerry York in the off-season," said Cavanaugh about his former boss.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.