UConn men’s hockey goalie Adam Huska came to Storrs all the way from Slovakia with a mission to transform the university into a hockey school. Although the team has a ways to go, the mentality is that they are getting closer each day.
“I came to UConn because I believed it was the best way for me and I wanted to go to school because school is important for me in my life,” Huska said. “Also, I kinda took it like a challenge, because UConn wasn’t really a hockey school, and I wanted to come here and make it a hockey school—to build the program and be a part of it.”
Trying to make the basketball capital of the world excel at hockey is not the only challenge that Huska faced. The 2015 New York Rangers draft pick had to learn a new language, culture and way of life in America.
“I struggled with the language barrier when I came,” Huska said. “Also the culture is different, the people think differently and so on. The biggest difference is how people act on the street or what people wear. So, I just kind of copied some people, like how they act in public or how they talk to each other. The first year I was here, I would watch and try to take the positives from others.”
Three years into his career at UConn, Huska is now taking other foreign players under his wing. One of those players is Tomas Vomacka, a freshman goalie from the Czech Republic. Vomacka said Huska is the ideal teammate to compete with and to be around because of his unique personality.
“We speak the same language, so that makes it easier,” said Vomacka, who was drafted by the Nashville Predators. “And he is a great kid and a great friend. Obviously on the ice it’s a little competitive, but that’s how it’s supposed to be and that’s how it should be. There is only one net. We both want to play, but whoever plays, you just got to be supportive and that’s what helps the team.”
With Huska earning the bulk of the playing time for the Huskies, the area he has improved on significantly is his work ethic. After constantly working out in the weight room and on the ice several hours before practice officially starts, Huska noticed a change.
“When I was a freshman, I usually was always tired,” Huska said. “Now, I work out more and more. So when I finish practice, I still feel good, like I can do more and more. So I think my conditioning has gotten a lot better.”
Since Christmas, UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh has noticed an uptick in Huska’s play between the pipes. During the team’s first game after winter break, Huska had a season-high 39 saves and the team defeated then-No.15 Yale. There is one attribute that Cavanaugh said helps Huska in high-pressure situations.
“He is very calm,” Cavanaugh said. “He doesn’t get rattled easy and I think that is very important for a goalie.”
Despite the team’s record sitting at 7-17-2, Huska is continuing to push himself and his teammates to not give up on the season. If there’s something he is unsure of, he will analyze game film, talk to coaches and teammates, then practice on the ice. But the main thing at this point of the year, Huska said, is to keep everyone positive.
“Hockey is a team sport and we need everyone in the locker room,” Huska said. “So I am just trying to help guys because I know if someone has a bad game, I am trying to help them. Because I know I can have a bad game too. I know that if someone helps me, it makes me play better.”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.