The UConn men’s hockey team is coming off its best season since joining Hockey East, perhaps the most competitive hockey conference in the country. After a difficult November, the Huskies ended the season on an absolute tear, including a seven-game win streak and wins over numerous powerhouse programs, earning a first round bye in the Hockey East tournament. However, the team has since graduated some of the most important pieces of last year’s roster, and while they’ve picked up some valuable additions, this season’s outlook is murky. In this week’s roundtable, the DC Sports staff provides their expectations for this season’s men’s hockey team.
Julia Dowd, Campus Correspondent
Looking at the roster for the 2018-2019 season, they seem to have a pretty young team. A lot of new recruits could be beneficial for them, but only time will tell. Last season, they had a record of 15-19-2 and they had a lot of seniors at that time. It will be interesting to see if the players for this season will be able to improve their record. I wasn’t able to see too many games last season, but they seemed like a competitive team that was able to handle high-pressure situations. But for this season, I’m not quite sure what to expect.
Matt Barresi, Staff Writer
Slušný. That is the Czech word for respectable. It is indisputable that UConn was rolling last year. They beat top Hockey East teams, won intense games and were simply an enjoyable team to support. But that was last year’s team. Max Letunov and a glut of senior defenseman are gone. The novelty has worn off, and while UConn is still recruiting well, they haven’t brought in the Tage Thompsons or Letunovs anymore like a BU or BC does class after class. Ruslan Ishakov might just be that dude, but he is a diminutive 5-foot-7, is new to American hockey and has a lot on his shoulder. Fellow freshmen Jachym Kondelik and Kale Howarth were both listed as Top 75 players to watch, but they are just freshmen. So what do I expect? I expect a very intriguing team that will grow and change a lot over the course of the year. A team that will play hard, compete and rarely be outclassed. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to winning. UConn was picked eighth by the Hockey East coaches and that sounds about right. A spot higher or lower seems normal but I wouldn’t consider this a high variance team. Barring a freshman god, or a Adam Huska season for the ages, the team will be fine. Just fine.
Kevin Arnold, Staff Writer
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what to expect from this year’s men’s hockey team. Last year’s team was exciting due to a late season winning streak that really got UConn students and the state talking about hockey again. But within a month the season was over, after back-to-back losses against BU finalized a 15-19-2 record. This year’s team features a top-tier recruiting class but graduated a sizable chunk of last year’s squad. I think this year’s success is dependent on how quickly the younger guys can mature and contribute on a consistent basis. I also think this season will test the junior class and their leadership. UConn has a small senior class of only three so it’ll be up to the juniors to help the freshmen assimilate into true Huskies.
Neil Simmons, Campus Correspondent
In the four years that UConn has been in Hockey East, they’ve finished ninth, eighth, ninth and fifth, but have never finished with a .500 record. Add in the fact that the Huskies are facing a lot of roster turnover after losing seven seniors who played at least 120 games and their leading scorer Max Letunov, and this could be a tough year for Coach Cavanaugh and the boys. Miles Gendron, Max Kalter and Adam Huska are going to have to step up as the leaders for a team that will rely on a lot of freshman talent. If the young guys can get in rhythm quickly and Huska stands on his head, UConn might surprise some teams. Otherwise I’m expecting a regression year back to eighth or ninth.