Posted: 07/30/15, 4:47 PM EDT | Updated: 3 weeks, 4 days ago
Members of the Quinnipiac and UConn hockey teams and administrators line up with representatives of firefighters and policemen during postgame ceremonies of the “Heroes Hat” at Madison Square Garden in 2003. Peter Hvizdak — Register file photo
It won’t be Quinnipiac’s first taste of the Big Apple, but this one will undoubtedly be a much larger affair.
Multiple sources confirmed that the Bobcats and Harvard are close to completing an agreement to play at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9, part of a hockey triple-header that includes a Rangers-Capitals game at 1 and an exhibition game between Army and Navy.
Contracts are expected to be finalized soon, an announcement to come in the next 10 days. Times have not been set, but Quinnipiac-Harvard will likely start at 7, with Army-Navy to follow. Television rights have not been determined, but both college games, and certainly Quinnipiac and Harvard, are expected to be broadcast nationally.
Quinnipiac’s first and only Madison Square Garden appearance was against UConn on March 1, 2003. The old MAAC Hockey league rivals drew a mere 2,115, a Sunday matinee announced just 30 days prior.
The January game will likely draw at least five times that number. Quinnipiac, now in the ECAC, is two years removed from its appearance in the nationa; championship game; Harvard, loaded with NHL prospects, may have its best shot at the Frozen Four since it last appeared there in 1994.
The Leverage Agency, the full-service entertainment marketing company which created the Yale-Harvard “Rivalry on Ice” games held the past two seasons, is
promoting the event. Ticket sales, spearheaded by the agency, were 15,524 in 2014 and 12,774 last January.
Harvard wished to continue the Rivalry on Ice, setting aside the Jan. 9 date for Yale. The Bulldogs declined, at least for the coming season, and Quinnipiac jumped at an offer to fill the slot.
The game will be an ECAC Hockey conference game, with Harvard considered the home team.
The Garden, which holds 18,200 for hockey, has gotten more involved with the college game the past eight years. Cornell has played there six times since 2007, its game with Penn State last November, at 15,027, was the only game that didn’t sell out the building. The Big Red face Boston University on Nov. 28 at MSG.
The Big Ten Conference has lined up games there each of the next two seasons, with Penn State and Michigan slated for Jan. 30, part of a day-night doubleheader with the men’s basketball programs. Boston College and North Dakota are also expected to play there in December, 2016, according to the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald.
Quinnipiac and Harvard both made the NCAA tournament last season, and are expected to contend for the conference title. The Bobcats, as ECAC Hockey’s regular season champion, return leading scorer Sam Anas, all-rookie forward Landon Smith and goaltender Michael Garteig. Harvard has Jimmy Vesey, one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, leading a group of four returning top scorers.
Navy, which does not field varsity hockey, will face Army’s club team.
Quinnipiac has yet to release its hockey schedule for the fall, and is waiting for the MSG game to become official.