UConn will welcome St. Francis Xavier to Storrs for a matinee matchup this Saturday. It will be the team’s final tune-up before the regular season starts next week.
This will be the Huskies’ fourth year in Hockey East. The Huskies were tabbed to finish seventh in the conference for the second season in a row in the preseason poll. UConn failed to meet preseason expectations last year, finishing ninth in Hockey East. UConn was knocked out of the Hockey East playoffs by Northeastern in two games.
The Huskies hope their returning veterans can fill the gaps left by their departing seniors while getting support from some fresh faces to the locker room.
UConn added five freshmen this offseason that should all make an immediate impact on the team this season.
Defenseman Adam Karashik and forward Brian Rigali are teammates this season, after battling for the USHL championship last year. Karashik helped the Chicago Steel bring home the Clark Cup, playing in 52 games with two goals and seven assists. Rigali is coming over from the Sioux City Musketeers, totaling 15 goals and 28 assists in his two seasons there.
This won’t be the first time Evan Wisocky and Rigali share a locker room. The two were teammates in Sioux City during the 2015-’16 season. Wisocky joined the Youngstown Phantoms last season and finished seventh on the team in scoring.
Zac Robbins served as an Alternate Captain for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. In addition to his leadership, the forward brings a scoring touch to team. Robbins scored 10 goals last season, four on the power play.
Goaltender Bradley Stone helped the Boston Jr. Bruins a USPHL Dineen Cup appearance. Stone finished with a 2.94 goals allowed average and .922 save percentage.
The Huskies lost their leading goal scorer this offseason after Tage Thompson signed an entry-level contract with the St. Louis Blues. Forwards Maxim Letunov and Spencer Naas, their second and third leading goal scorers, are back but the Huskies finished 10th in Hockey East in scoring last season. It’s a major concern whether the Huskies have enough firepower to keep pace with the best college hockey has to offer.
The Huskies do have several returning veterans to help defensively. Captain Derek Pratt is joined by classmates, David Drake and Johnny Austin on the blue line.
Saturday’s exhibition will provide coaches and fans with the first look of how the newest Huskies mix with the old, and if the team can generate enough offense to compete in Hockey East.
UConn and St. Francis Xavier will drop the puck at 3:05 p.m. at the Freitas Ice Forum.
Bryan Lambert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.