The UConn men’s ice hockey team will look to rebound from a slow start when it travels to Schenectady, New York for two games against the Dutchman from Union College.
The Ice Bus has gotten off to a less-than-ideal start to the season given their standards for success. The team is 1-2-1 through their first four games, coming fresh off of a two-game home-home sweep to Holy Cross last weekend. Over the weekend, the Huskies’ defense performed well enough to keep each contest close but the offense were unable to convert on their opportunities. Connecticut managed just one point in the two matches.
“You can’t score one goal in a weekend and expect to win,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after Saturday’s loss. “I thought that we played really well defensively and was happy with the [intensity] that we played, we just need to find a way to finish our chances.”
Union has seen mixed results in their first three games of the season. The Dutchmen destroyed Army West Point 6-0 to start the year, but they themselves were beaten hard in two games against Colorado College last weekend, entering Friday with a 1-2-0 record. Prior to the season starting, Union was predicted to finish eighth out of the 12 teams in the Eastern College Athletic Association conference, according to the Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Freshman Jake Richard has been one of the Huskies’ best players in the early going. The Jacksonville, Florida native has scored two goals and has tallied two assists to give him four points. His plus/minus of plus-2 is tied for third on the squad. Before he came to Storrs, Connecticut Richard played two years in the United States Hockey League. He began his USHL career playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, where he appeared in 80 games scoring 36 goals with 47 assists for 83 total points. He also suited up for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. During his time in the USHL, Richard played in 13 playoff games scoring two goals with five assists for seven points. Richard figures to become one of the Ice Bus’ top offensive players as the season continues.
The Dutchmen have three players tied atop the team leaderpoint in points scored with four. Of those three, Josh Nixon has been the most efficient as he’s provided his team with a plus/minus of plus-2, tied for best on his team. Of his four points, one has come via a goal and the other three have been on assists. In 34 games last season, Nixon scored 11 points on 61 shots. He added on five assists for a respectable 16 points on the campaign.
The Huskies are 4-2-3 all-time when taking on the Dutchmen. Their most recent matchup came last October when UConn narrowly escaped with a 4-3 victory. The Ice Bus has had Union’s number as of late, winning the previous three straight games heading into Friday’s tilt.
Coach Cavanaugh told the media on Wednesday that the team has been focusing extra carefully on converting their opportunities following the one-goal weekend: “We focused a lot this week on getting more traffic in front of the net and hitting the net… I think we missed the net on a couple of opportunities where we probably let the goalie off of the hook,” Cavanaugh said. “Overall, I was happy with the effort and the performance and I think if we continue [to only] give up three goals [over a weekend], we’ll be successful more [often] than not.”
The two teams will clash heads for two games at Messa Rink at Achilles Center in Schenectady, New York. Game one is set for Friday at 7 p.m. Game two will be Saturday at 4 p.m. Fans at home can watch the Huskies live with a subscription to ESPN+.