Last year, UConn Hockey was the Cinderella team of Hockey East. Often overlooked, the Huskies defied the media’s predictions of a last place finish and proved they belonged with the best in their inaugural year.
For the sequel, the Huskies look to prove that last season was no fluke and look to be even better in their second year in Hockey East.
UConn was picked to finish ninth in Hockey East this year.
Though the season started in Alabama over the weekend, UConn’s home opener against Arizona State tonight will help set the tone for the rest of the year.
“I think teams underestimated us last year and I don’t think that will be the case this year,” said sophomore defenseman Johnny Austin at Media Day. “I think with some of the players we brought in and some of the guys that are returning, teams know we’ll be a solid team and no gimme."
A season ago, UConn led Hockey East in home attendance and the Huskies’ electric home ice advantage was often a talking point among visiting teams.
“It’s going to be loud,” said freshman Max Letunov. “I never saw a game at the XL Center but I’m sure it’s going to be really loud and really going to help us.”
UConn split their road trip against Alabama-Hunstville to open the season. The Huskies came out on top 5-2, but fell by the same score on Sunday.
Letunov believes the weekend was a good measuring stick for the team.
“I think now we have more confidence in ourselves,” said Letunov. “We’ve already played three games, one exhibition and two regular season. We know what we’re capable of.”
Letunov was named Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Week after his four-point weekend, which included a hat trick on Friday.
Not only will Friday be the first meeting between Arizona State and UConn but it will also only be the Sun Devils’ fifth ever game as a Division I program.
The Sun Devils’ trip to Hartford is in the middle of a 3-day Connecticut road trip.
Arizona State will play No.17 Quinnipiac, UConn and Sacred Heart back to back to back.
Though this is ASU’s first year as a full NCAA program, there is still plenty of Division I experience on the bench.
Ryan Belonger, Dylan Hollman and Captain Garrett Peterson all played for Hockey East schools before transferring to ASU.
Another ASU player with northern roots is Brock Krygier. A graduate student, Brock is the son of UConn’s all-time leading goal scorer, Todd Krygier.
UConn is hoping for a bounce back performance out of their special teams on Friday.
The Huskies went O for 5 on the power play and gave up both a power play and shorthanded goal to Alabama Hunstville in the loss last Saturday.
UConn and ASU will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. at the XL Center.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.