The UConn men’s hockey team will travel to Orono for a weekend series hosted by the University of Maine Black Bears. The first game is on Friday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. puck drop on Saturday for the Huskies’ return to Hockey East play.
Ahead of the travel up north, head coach Mike Cavanaugh spoke to the media on Wednesday about this weekend’s set of games and the Huskies’ plan of attack on the Black Bears.
Regarding Alfond Arena as “One of the best atmospheres in all of college hockey,” Cavanaugh is well aware of what the Huskies are in for ahead of Friday night.
“I think that they’re playing a very aggressive style of hockey right now and it’s going to be a tough barn to play in. So, it’s going to be a great way to close out our seven-game roundtrip and we’re excited for the challenge,” Cavanaugh said at Wednesday’s press conference about Maine’s play so far this season.
Ultimately, Cavanaugh believes that Maine’s entire team will give the Huskies a test of their resilience, hoping that it extends beyond last week’s wins at Northeastern and Dartmouth, as he noted specific players to watch out for.
“They’re always physical, I think they skate pretty well. I think Dawe is an excellent offensive player, Sirota is very good on defense, both of their goalies played extremely well against us, so I think they have some talent in net, good defensemen,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh noted the talent beyond the ice as well, within Maine’s staff, identifying Maine head coach Ben Barr.
“Ben Barr, I have the utmost respect for,” Cavanaugh said. “He was the associate coach at UMass last year when they won a national championship, he certainly knows what he’s doing, and it’s evident when I watch the film how aggressive they are; they’re going to be a tough team to deal with.”
Cavanaugh’s comments of praise may come as a surprise to many, considering that Maine has yet to win a game this season.
Right after the UConn Huskies played Northeastern and beat them 5-3, Maine had a two-game series in Boston against Northeastern.
The Black Bears fell to Northeastern’s Huskies on both nights. On Friday, Maine was scoreless and lost with a final score of 0-5. The following evening looked better for them, but they still came up short at 2-3.
The most positive moments for the Black Bears were in the Sacred Heart series. They managed to hold the Pioneers to one goal and lost 0-1. They came back the next night and left the ice with a 3-3 tie to interrupt their losing streak before continuing it at Northeastern.
Still, Cavanaugh isn’t underestimating what the Black Bears could bring in these next two games.
“I don’t think our team looks past anybody. We’re certainly not a program that, I feel, thinks we’re better than anybody,” Cavanaugh said.
He didn’t take this opportunity to speak on the UConn’s accomplishments, but rather highlighted the adversity they’ve experienced.
“Our kids are an experienced group of guys, you know, they were humbled quite a bit when they were freshmen. We had a long losing streak when they were freshmen and I think they’ve learned that, especially in college hockey, anybody can beat anybody on any given night. If you don’t come with your a-game, you’re leaving that game up to chance,” Cavanaugh said.