The 2018-19 season has not been ideal for the UConn men’s hockey team, but not all hope is lost just yet. After a disappointing 5-2 defeat by Rensselaer Wednesday night, the Huskies remain optimistic with a dozen remaining games.
“We’ve just got to get better as a team. We have to coach better. We have to play better and find a rhythm,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I don’t think we’ve found our rhythm yet as a club and with 12 games left, we’re going to have to figure out a way to do that pretty soon.”
Current winners of just two games in their last 11, the Huskies desperately need consistency to achieve a goal that remains within their grasp: making the playoffs.
“If we don’t play desperate from here on out, we won’t make the playoffs,” Cavanaugh said.
It may seem unlikely that a team with a 7-15-1 overall record, 2-11-1 in the conference, can make the playoffs, but the Huskies are not far off. With new rules in place for the 2019 Hockey East tournament, the top eight teams will face off against each other in mid-March, giving the current tenth seed Huskies a chance to make a splash in the postseason.
Of their last 12 games, UConn plays nine at the XL Center and 11 are against conference opponents. Cavanaugh and his squad understand the opportunity they have in front of them and know it will be a total team effort to get it done, from the coaches to the players and even the fans in the crowd.
“I think it’s really important because I know the group I have in there, they’re not going to quit…. They’re going to stay committed to this,” Cavanaugh said. “I know the UConn fanbase, having been around them now for five or six years, I know they’re not going to quit on us either. We still have our destiny in our own hands. With 11 league games left, we have our destiny in our own hands. We don’t need to scoreboard watch and hope teams lose. If we play well and win the majority of those games, we’ll get ourselves into the playoffs and then anything can happen.”
Coaches often lean on veteran leaders to guide a team to the playoffs and establish that rhythm, the consistency a winning team needs. For a team with only three seniors, the young guys are going to have to step up.
“With such a young group, with 12 freshman, it’s time they start playing like veterans too,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s going to be the big thing going forward, having our younger guys play like veterans.”
Until March and the playoff bracket is set, the Huskies must find their missing rhythm soon and it starts when they host New Hampshire on Friday, January 25. Coach Cavanaugh’s plan until then?
“Just try to get better everyday.”
Kevin Arnold is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.