Up until the beginning of the third period of the Feb. 1 game against Boston College, junior Adam Huska had been the starting goalkeeper for the UConn men’s hockey team. Over the seven games since then, freshman Tomas Vomacka has started six of them. Today, we debate which goalie should start in net next season for the Huskies.
Huska started 21 of 37 games in 2016-17, which was his freshman season, sharing time in net with senior Rob Nichols. That postseason, UConn had a first round matchup with Northeastern in which they got swept in two games. Huska started in net for both of those playoff games, and the net has belonged to him since. That freshman season, he posted a stellar 0.916 save percentage, which was good for fifth in the conference and 22nd in the nation. His 2.87 goals against average was the sixth lowest in UConn history for a season. Plus, he managed to play even better the more that the games mattered. He was 7-4-3 with a 2.40 goals against average and a 0.928 save percentage against conference opponents.
His sophomore season, Huska took another step forward despite missing some time due to injury. Huska started 26 games and posted an even more impressive goals against average of 2.59 with a save percentage of 0.912. Though his numbers took a bit of a hit this season, we all know what Huska is capable of. We should continue to hear the roar of the student section bellowing, “Huuuusk,” with each save next season.
Highlighting that Huska was in goal for both of the playoff games that the Huskies got destroyed in is not a good thing. After all, Huska did give up eight goals in those two games alone. He’s also far removed from that freshman season and, as you noted, the numbers have taken a dive. Meanwhile, Vomacka has put up better numbers in just his freshman season than Huska has done at any point in his career. His 2.27 goals-against average and .922 save percentage is easily better than Huska’s sophomore season that you referenced. Then, when you compare that to the 3.34 goals-against average and .896 save percentage that Huska put up this year, the difference is drastic.
Ever since Vomacka became the primary starter after Huska’s disaster against Boston College, he has given up no more than two goals in a single game through six starts. The one game he didn’t start over that span, Huska gave up five goals in a loss to Providence. Ultimately, it comes down to this, the Huskies are 4-2-0 in Vomacka’s last six starts and 0-5-1 in Huska’s. Vomacka gives them the best chance to win.
While those stats from Vomacka are impressive, it is important to note that they were accumulated over the course of just 13 starts. Of those 13 starts, only two were against ranked opponents, while Huska had to tend goal against six teams that were ranked. Huska’s stats are going to be inflated by those blowout losses, which consist of giving up seven goals to then No. 5 Providence College and No. 3 University of Massachusetts.
While I would agree that Vomacka has been stellar over the 13 of 33 games that he’s started, I’m not ready to crown him quite yet. We know how great Huska can be, and with it being his senior season next year, he will have extra motivation to finish out his UConn career strong.
It’s also worth pointing out that Vomacka also had a start against UMass, who, by the way, had moved up to No. 2 by that point, and only gave up two goals. It’s simply time to move on and look to the future, and that is Vomacka. Even though it is a relatively small sample size, he has shown signs of greatness, and the program needs to give him every possible chance to grow and shine. You can’t have talent like Vomacka’s sitting on the bench.
Now, I’m not saying that Vomacka needs to start every game. Huska is still a skilled goalie and will be a valuable asset and veteran presence on the team next year. However, when it comes to who plays in the most important and majority of the games, it has to be Vomacka.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.