The UConn men’s hockey team has six freshmen on the roster for the 2020-21 college hockey season. Among this group are five forwards and a single defenseman. UConn faced some problems with their offensive potential last season, so the freshman class including five forwards is a welcome addition to the team. Among the freshmen are two players from Connecticut, which is a big win for a program that historically has struggled to attract local talent. The team will also add a Russian, two players from Western Canada, and one from New Jersey.
Cassidy Bowes #9 (F):
For the 2019-20 season Bowes was an alternate captain for the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. During his single season with the Wolverines, Bowes led the team in goals scored and ended the season third overall in total points earned. Before his time in Whitecourt, Bowes played with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League. In Penticton, Bowes put up decent numbers with 23 goals scored over two seasons, the final of which Bowes served as an alternate captain for the team. During his time in the BCHL Bowes got playoff experience, which will be important for the Huskies looking to ride their momentum from last season and work towards a spot in the Hockey East Tournament.
Gavin Puskar #12 (F):
Gavin Puskar put together an impressive career with The Hotchkiss School of New England Prep Hockey. During his three seasons there, Puskar took the ice in 75 games earning a total of 65 points from 31 goals and 34 assists. Puskar also played with the Mid-Fairfield Rangers 18U team in the EHF 18U Elite league while at the Hotchkiss school. During the 2018-19 season, he was named All-NEPSAC first team honorable mention after putting up a 15-point, eight-goal and seven-assist season.
John Spetz #18 (D):
John Spetz has played the last 3 years with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, a team that consistently produces top level NCAA talent including UConn captain Adam Karashik. During the 2019-20 season, Spetz was an alternate captain for the Steel and produced impressive numbers with a 33-point, 14-goal and 19-assist season. Over his career with the Steel, he played in 164 games earning 78 points on 24 goals and 54 assists. After his final season in the USHL, Spetz now holds the Chicago Steel record for points earned by a defenseman. During his successful career in the USHL, Spetz earned important playoff experience, suiting up for 18 postseason games with the Steel. The Huskies lost their top defenseman from last season Wyatt Newpower, so Spetz’s addition should help the team fill that gap.
Nick Capone #21 (F):
Capone has spent the last three seasons playing for both the Tri-City Storm of the USHL and the Salisbury School of New England Prep Hockey. During the 2018-19 season, Capone put up 47 points on 20 goals and 27 assists. With the Tri-City Storm, Capone put up 20 points over two seasons on eight goals and 12 assists. The vast majority of these came during the 2019-20 season, which he played exclusively for Tri-City rather than splitting time with Salisbury School. Before the 2019-20 season was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Storm held a 24-17-5 record. Nick is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and was ranked by NHL Central Scouting as 126th on the list of North American skaters.
Hudson Schandor #22 (F):
Hudson Schandor has spent the last three years playing for the Surrey Eagles and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League where he put up very impressive numbers. During his career in the BCHL, Schandor appeared in 147 games and earned 114 points. For the 2019-20 season, Schandor was named captain of the Surrey Eagles and appeared in 56 games, scoring 25 goals and 36 assists which placed him second on his team for scoring and eighth in the BCHL. In each of his three seasons in the BCHL, Schandor helped lead his team into the playoffs, totaling 16 games of postseason play where he scored six goals with nine assists total.
Artem Shlaine #32 (F):
Artem is a very young talent coming to the team from Shattuck-St. Mary’s, an elite prep school in Minnesota. During the 2019-20 season, Shlaine helped lead the team to a 35-8-3 season and a qualification for the 2020 McPherson Cup tournament before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the 2019-20 season, he earned 78 points over 46 games with 26 goals 52 assists. In 2018-19 with Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Artem posted 90 points with 34 goals and 56 assists. Shlaine also played six games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League where he scored two goals and recorded an assist. He is eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and was ranked 93rd on the list of North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.
With leading Hockey East teams like Boston College and the University of Maine losing top scorers and goal talent, this season’s playing field looks to be much more balanced than last year. Before the season was cut short due to the pandemic, UConn was set to play Maine in Orono for a spot in the Hockey East semifinals at the TD Garden. If head coach Mike Cavanaugh develops these freshmen well, the Huskies should be in a very good position to take a spot among the top half of Hockey East once again.
Tim Keaten is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com