UConn men’s ice hockey, in concert with many of its Hockey East competitors, will forgo a preseason game against a U Sports team. U Sports, formerly known as the CIS, is the Canadian counterpart of the NCAA.
The move comes as the season calendar changed this year for U Sports. Two games have already been played, and many programs get going this weekend. Last season, UConn hosted St. Francis Xavier for an exhibition on Sept. 30, a 2-1 victory. They then played their regular season opener on Oct. 6 at Maine.
Since joining Hockey East in 2014—2015, the Huskies have played an exhibition against a Canadian school every season for a record of 3-1. In the 10 years preceding joining Hockey East, it was also a common event, as the Huskies played then-CIS schools eight times in the decade.
Last year, including UConn, seven of the 11 Hockey East programs played Canadian exhibitions, while this season only four (UMass-Lowell, BU, Vermont, and UMass) have scheduled one.
The games are known for being contentious, and it being early in the season, are prone to sloppiness.
Last season, UConn averaged 4.8 penalties per game for 10.5 minutes per game, while their opponents were at 4.6 and 10.2. Last year, however, UConn had 11 penalties for 22 minutes and St. Francis Xavier had seven. The year before, the Huskies’ Wyatt Newpower picked up a five-minute major for high sticking and subsequent 10-minute misconduct ejection. This is not a situation unique to UConn. In a 2016 exhibition, Boston University and Prince Edward Island combined for 39 penalties. In the rematch last year, PEI managed to put up another 11. The same year, Bowling Green and University of Windsor combined for 168 penalty minutes.
Last year, Providence College Head Coach Nate Leaman, whose Friars will not play an exhibition this year and did not last year, said, “We haven’t gotten a lot out of the (exhibition) game, to be honest with you. A player has been injured in each of last 2 years.”
Another thing lost in the exhibition is a chance to attend a men’s ice hockey game at Freitas Ice Forum.
Since joining Hockey East, the Huskies have played all their home games at the XL Center in Hartford, as Freitas does not meet the requirements for a home arena. This situation left the exhibition the lone game the program would host on-campus each year. The rink is tiny, but the game drew well. Those two factors combined to produce a raucous atmosphere.
The team plans to use inter-squad scrimmages in preparation for the season. It has not been determined if the exhibition will return in the future.
Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.