Hockey is more than just a game in Connecticut, and later this month, the state's four NCAA Division I men's hockey programs -- UConn, Yale, Sacred Heart, and Quinnipiac -- will battle at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. to determine who will take the throne.
Connecticut Ice is a three-day festival, Jan. 24 - 26, that will showcase youth and amateur hockey from across the state and include the Collegiate Cup - the two-round, four-game tournament for state bragging rights.
Here's what you need to know about the first-round matchups…
GAME ONE: Jan. 25, 4 p.m. - Quinnipiac vs. UConn
UConn Huskies: 7-10-4, 4-7-2 Hockey East
Inconsistency has plagued UConn this season. The Huskies started 3-6-3 in their first 12 games. However, going into the break they rattled off a four-game winning streak. The Huskies finished above .500 at the break for the first time in their Hockey East history. However, UConn has not won a game since entering Wednesday's matchup with Maine. The Huskies are hoping to have a playoff spot, as they are tied for seventh place in Hockey East.
UConn has put together a decent season thus far, despite no one on its roster dominating the Hockey East stat sheet. Offensively, UConn has zero players in the top 10 for goals, points, or assists.
Sophomore goalie Tomas Vomacka is ninth in Hockey East in winning percentage. The Nashville Predators' 2017 fifth-round pick is 13th in goals-against average and 12th save percentage in their conference. In the second part of the season, UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh is expecting more from his goaltender.
One of the biggest offensive threats for UConn is sophomore forward Ruslan Iskhakov. The New York Islanders' 2018 second-round pick has 33 points in 51 career games. At 5-foot-7, Iskhakov has a pure talent that every opposing team watches out for when it takes the ice against the Huskies.
Quinnipiac Bobcats: 12-8-1, 7-4-1 ECAC Hockey
In Rand Pecknold's 26th season as Quinnipiac head coach, the Bobcats are cruising into the ECAC Hockey playoffs once again. Quinnipiac is third in the conference standings with 15 points, trailing behind Cornell (17) and Clarkson (18).
A few Bobcats are putting together career years: Sophomore forward Wyatt Bongiovanni is scorching hot, leading ECAC Hockey with 11 goals in 21 games. Junior assistant captain Odeen Tufto is tied for second in the conference with 23 points and first with 20 assists.
There were questions this offseason about whether or not junior Keith Petruzzelli could be a true No. 1 option between the pipes after the departure of Andrew Shortridge.
Petruzzelli has answered the doubters by anchoring the goalkeeping position. The Detroit Red Wings' 2017 third-round pick has a 2.21 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
With the Bobcats first in ECAC Hockey in shots and shots-per-game, expect them to attack offensively, trying to get out to an early lead against the Huskies.
GAME TWO: Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m. - Sacred Heart vs. Yale
Sacred Heart Pioneers: 14-7-1, 13-5 Atlantic Hockey
The first-place Pioneers are rolling and should have a leg up against the other three teams in this tournament, since Webster Bank Arena is their home ice, but Sacred Heart is just 4-5-1 at home this season and 10-2 on the road.
Sacred Heart has flooded Atlantic Hockey's stat sheet this year, leading the conference in goals per game, assists, shots, and points per game.
Defensively Sacred Heart is in the top five in goals-against average and save percentage, thanks to sophomore goalie Josh Benson, who is in the top three in every individual goalie statistic in his conference.
Jason Cotton, Mike Lee, Matt Tugnutt and Austin McIlmurray make up four of the five Atlantic Hockey leaders in points. Sacred Heart has seven players in the top 10, while no other conference team has more than one. The Pioneers also have four of the top five in goals per game, three of the top four in assists per game, and the top two in hat tricks. McIlmurray leads the conference in power-play goals.
Sacred Heart head coach C.J. Marottolo was an assistant and associate coach with Yale for 13 years. Marottolo is aiming to show that the Pioneers' success this season isn't a result of a lackluster conference. That starts with a win against his old team.
Yale Bulldogs: 5-10, 3-8 ECAC Hockey
Yale played uninspired in the first half of this season. But if anyone can get this team back on track, it's head coach Keith Allain. Allain has been at the helm since 2006 - leading the Bulldogs to six NCAA Tournament appearances and a national title in 2013 against Quinnipiac.
Yale isn't in the top five of any offensive or defensive conference statistic, but one bright spot for the Bulldogs has been sophomore forward Curtis Hall. The Boston Bruins' 2018 fourth-round draft pick has recorded six goals in nine games this season. Expect Hall to ignite a spark on the ice for Yale, looking to lead the team back on track against Sacred Heart.
Another glimmer of hope: Yale has won five of its last seven games.