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Storrs - When UConn begins its journey into major college hockey in 2014-15, it will do so with someone very familiar with the territory.
Mike Cavanaugh, who stood alongside Boston College's Jerry York for the last 18 seasons, was introduced as the Huskies' new head coach on Thursday. UConn will play one final season as a member of the Atlantic Hockey Association before joining the prestigious Hockey East.
"I think that I know that league pretty well," Cavanaugh said during a press conference at the Burton Family Football Complex. "This year will be a little more challenging for me because I don't know the Atlantic Hockey opponents as well.
"It's imperative that I set the tone for this program. (Winning Atlantic Hockey) is our goal this year. Hockey East can wait."
When Cavanaugh transitions the Huskies into Hockey East, however, he will bring a wealth of experience. During his 18 seasons as York's assistant, the Eagles won four national championships (three since 2008), nine Hockey East tournament titles and reached the NCAA Frozen Four 10 times.
He also built a reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters, especially in New England and Canada.
"It's an exciting time for college hockey in Connecticut, with Yale and Quinnipiac playing for the national championship this past year," Cavanaugh said. "For years, I have recruited this area extensively. I think that the homegrown talent here is something that attracted me to the job.
"The passion that UConn has had for its sports has always intrigued me. It's what brought me here to UConn."
Cavanaugh, born in North Andover, Mass., is a 1990 Bowdoin College graduate. He will be 45 next month and replaces interim coach David Berard, who guided UConn through the majority of its 2012-13 season after coach Bruce Marshall resigned for personal reasons.
"This is a very special day in our history ... in our hockey history," said UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, who introduced Cavanaugh. "It's a time when we're transitioning from Atlantic Hockey to the best hockey conference in the nation."
Cavanaugh, who met his new team Thursday morning, will take the next few days and weeks to get familiar with his new surroundings.
"I want to get to meet people on campus," he said. "My goal this summer is to really understand the culture here at UConn, so that my players will understand it and we can navigate this campus effortlessly throughout the year."
Cavanaugh said he had a chance to meet retired UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun on Thursday morning, and said, "I can't wait to meet Geno Auriemma. Eight national titles, 90 straight wins is just incredible. I look forward to going out and watching his practices.
"I think it's always important to keep learning in life. I'm going to continually try to learn and evolve from everyone on this campus."