This weekend, UConn will take to the ice against the Boston College Eagles for a double header. This series will be the first time the Huskies take to the ice since their Nov. 21 game against UMass. Hockey East has had issues across the board with teams being forced to cancel games due to positive tests or COVID-19 scares among players and support staff. On Friday, the Icebus departs for Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to play against the Eagles in the Conte Forum for a 6 p.m. game that will be broadcast on NESN. Saturday afternoon, the Eagles will make the trip to Storrs to play the Huskies at the Freitas Ice Forum.
Despite being set against a tough opponent, UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh is excited for his players to take to the ice.
“Honestly, our players are just dying to play a hockey game and Boston College is a great team and they’ve had a great tradition and program for a long time, but our players are just excited to play a game.”
Boston College will be missing some of their standout players during the season due to the start of the United States National Team’s World Junior Championship camp starting, including Richter Award nominee Spencer Knight, the Eagle’s top ranked starting goaltender and Matt Boldy, a top point scorer for the Eagles. UConn has also lost left winger Vladislav Firstov and defensemen Yan Kuznetsov to the Russian World Juniors camp. On a team traditionally made up of young talent from the Kontinental Hockey League and Supreme Hockey League, Firstov and Kuznetsov will be the first NCAA players to join the Russian U20s.
“Whether you’re the top forward on the team or the 15th forward on the team…at some point, you’re going to be asked to contribute.”UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh
With Firstov gone for WJC camps and John Wojciechowski out for a shoulder injury, the Huskies are lacking some depth among the forward lines. UConn will have to rely on some untested talent in order to fill all 12 spots on the lineup. The team will need to lean into players like Eric Linell who has yet to earn a point across 15 career games.
“I’ve always said if you’re on a roster, you have to be expected to contribute at some point,” Cavanaugh said. “So if it’s your time to shine then that’s what you have to do, and that’s why we practice so hard. Whether you’re the top forward on the team or the 15th forward on the team…at some point, you’re going to be asked to contribute.”
Despite missing a handful of key players, the Eagles are going to be a tough opponent to beat for the Huskies. Not only have they had more actual games this season, those games have left the Eagles ranked No. 2 in the nation, only falling behind the Fighting Eagles of North Dakota. Three weeks without a game against an opponent may leave the Huskies lacking in conditioning and game sense, but do not expect the series to be a write off. With solid performances from a deep defensive line and a strong game from goaltender Tomas Vomacka, the Huskies will look to take a win away from the weekend.