With wins of 3-2 and 7-4 over the Vermont Catamounts this weekend, the UConn men’s hockey team completed a dominant sweep to move to 7-6-3 overall and 4-4-2 in Hockey East play.
In the two games this weekend, everybody got in on the action, as the Huskies got goals from eight different players while 15 different skaters tallied points.
“If you want to make a run, if you want to be good in this league, you gotta have depth,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “You can’t rely on one line to carry you throughout a season. I think it’s pretty evident, you’re seeing the signs of it right now that we’re getting scoring up and down our lineup.”
In Friday’s game, the three goals came from three different lines and on Saturday, all four lines scored. Cavanaugh said having that kind of production is a luxury for him.
“It’s fun to coach because I’m not even worried really about line matchups, I trust every line right now,” Cavanaugh said. “They’re all playing very well, so it’s fun to coach to be able to just roll lines. It makes my job a lot easier.”
Marc Gatcomb, who scored Saturday’s first goal, said having the whole team contribute gives everyone on the bench more confidence.
“It’s great that you can rely on your whole team,” Gatcomb said. “Obviously that support is great. We had seven goals tonight, so it just gives you a little more comfort on the bench knowing that you have that lead and that no matter who’s out there, everyone can score.”
Goal scorers this weekend included Gatcomb, Ruslan Iskhakov, Jachym Kondelik, Vladislav Firstov, Jonny Evans, Carter Turnbull, Brian Rigali, and Carter Berger. The only player who scored more than once was Evans, who recorded a hat trick on Saturday in just his second game back after missing a few weeks with a hand injury.
“I got set up really nice by my teammates, so it was pretty easy,” Evans said.
All 15 UConn skaters who dressed for both games this weekend recorded at least one point. They played solid, team-oriented hockey in two hard-fought wins, and that style of play has been evident over the last month.
“Overall, it’s been a really good month for our team, the way we’ve played, and it’s just because we’re working hard and we’re playing the game the right way,” Cavanaugh said.
Heading into the three-week winter break, the Huskies are playing their best hockey of the season, winning four in a row and going 5-1-2 in their last eight games. Getting production from the entire team has been instrumental in their recent success.
“Obviously we didn’t start the season like we wanted to, but I think now we’re starting to find a lot of chemistry with all four lines,” Gatcomb said. “Everyone’s contributing, everyone’s doing their role, so that helps a lot. Definitely down the stretch towards Christmas, these are the games you need to win, and I think we’ve really bared down and had a good stretch.”