For the past decade or so, Mike Cavanaugh Jr. heard the inevitable question: When are you going to be a Division 1 head coach?
After 18 years as an assistant at Boston College, which included four national titles, he doesn’t have to face that question again. Cavanaugh was named head coach at the University of Connecticut yesterday.
UConn, which moved up to NCAA Division 1 hockey in 1998, will play its final season in Atlantic Hockey this fall. After that, it’s up to Hockey East.
In 2014-15, UConn will move to what Athletic Director Warde Manuel called, the “best hockey conference in the nation.”
Cavanaugh leaves the side of one of the all-time greats in BC’s Jerry York to become the fourth permanent head hockey coach in UConn history.
“It’s an exciting time for college hockey in Connecticut; with Yale and Quinnipiac playing for the national championship this past year. For years, I have recruited this area extensively. I think that the homegrown talent here is something that attracted me to the job,” said Cavanaugh. “The passion that UConn has had for its sports has always intrigued me. It’s what brought me here to UConn. The sense of pride that the alumni and people of Connecticut have for the state university is something that would attract any coach to come here to UConn.”
Cavanaugh, a Bowdoin grad, will make the move from Boston to Storrs along with his wife, Lynne, and their children, Quinn and Caroline.
At BC, Cavanaugh most often had the pick of the American talent in recruiting.
He was able to flaunt the multiple Frozen Fours (10), playing in the Beanpot and the tradition.
At UConn, he might as well be starting from scratch. This is a program with one conference title, the MAAC in 2000.
“When I went to Boston College, they said we couldn’t recruit Canadians. If you just listen to people say that you can’t do something and say ‘I don’t think we can do that’ then you’re not going to be successful at anything,” said Cavanaugh. “I’m excited to recruit the talent here. I’ve been recruiting this talent for a long time. I have a lot of connections here; trusted friendships. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I look forward to the challenge of recruiting [Connecticut] kids.
“This is not going to be Boston College moving to Storrs. This is going to be UConn hockey and that’s what I’m focused on. It’s important that we establish what UConn hockey stands for and that’s what I expressed to the players. I expressed that this is going to be a partnership. It’s not a one-way street. Whatever you’re in, it has to be a partnership to succeed.”
UConn has grown into an NCAA power in a handful of sports, even outside of women’s and men’s basketball.
“The number of national championships, not only in basketball, but soccer and field hockey shows me that there is a commitment to winning here at UConn, said Cavanaugh.
“My mission here is going to be to graduate players and win championships.”