In UConn’s 5-2 loss against No. 8 Providence College, we saw a large group of underclassmen play big minutes on the ice, with freshmen accounting for both of the Huskies’ goals.
Jonny Evans scored on a breakaway 1:42 into the game, and Kale Howarth scored on a power play about five minutes into the second period. A freshman was also credited with an assist on each of the goals.
It wasn’t one of those games where the big bully ranked team beats up on the young team out of playoff contention. The game was tied 2-2 up until there was 16:10 left in the final period, which is when Providence opened up the floodgates by scoring three times in six minutes.
Despite it being close, head coach Mike Cavanaugh opted to go to underclassmen more than usual. He described how he has to balance playing his seniors in their finals games at UConn and preparing the younger, less experienced guys for next season.
“I have the utmost respect for Miles [Gendron], Max [Kalter] and Karl [El-Mir] and I want them to finish their careers on a high note,” Cavanaugh said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve always competed hard. That’s never been an issue, and that’s always going to be an expectation of mine. This season hasn’t gone the way we’ve wanted it to go, however we’ve been competing hard, even down the stretch here. It’s important that we finish these last two games, regardless of playoffs, competing the way a UConn hockey player should, night in and night out.”
UConn was eliminated from the playoff race after their previous game, which was a 3-0 loss to No. 2 UMass. It made a lot of sense for them to play their underclassmen more to prepare them for next season given this situation.
Not only did we see the freshmen that typically take the ice a lot like Jachym Kondelik, Ruslan Iskhakov and Evans, but we also saw a lot of Howarth, Marc Gatcomb, Carter Turnbull, Corson Green and Roman Kinal. But according to Cavanaugh, winning games is still the team’s focus.
“I’m coaching to win the game on Friday night. Whoever our best players are are going to play. If it’s seniors, they’re going to play. If it’s freshmen, they’ll play. Whoever is going to give us the best chance to win is going to play,” Cavanaugh said.
Friday night, UConn has a home game against the University of Vermont in their second-to-last game of the season. Their last game will be another home game the following Friday against UMass. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.