UConn Men's Hockey, A step in the right direction

Monday, March 16th - Well like UConn WBB, the Men's Hockey Team has ended prematurely with the coronovirus issues that have hit the country. And the question is, what would have this team done in the Hockey East Playoffs ?? Like every other sport, we'll never know...

After a roller coaster ride thru 23 games that had the Huskies looking from the outside, UConn reeled off 8 of it's last 11 league games in the win column and moved up to fifth in Hockey East. Ahead of BU, Providence and Northeastern. After a less than stellar 2-5-1 start that included being outplayed by BC in early November, the Huskies finished the first half string with four straight home wins. Then after the flu bug went thru the Huskies like a house of fire and two frustrating losses at Connecticut Ice, the last month of the season put UConn in a position to earn home ice in the Quarterfinals until Lowell beat the Huskies in the regular season finale.

The Seniors led the way and got hot as the season progressed. Captain Ben Freeman's OT game winner at Northeastern in January got the Maine native rolling and he never stopped producing. A team high 28 points on the season finding Sasha Payusov and Carter Turnbull as those two combined for 24 goals. Defenseman Wyatt Newpower became the offensive defenseman that the Huskies sorely missed last season (22pts) while being that stalwart on the blueline. working well together with Ryan Wheeler.

While Wyatt was the team's most improved player last season, Sophomore Carter Turnbull was without a doubt this season's. Turnbull battled injury in his freshman year, started making an impact at RPI and never stopped. Like Payusov, Turnbull the co-leader in goals with 12. His effort was relentless and it complimented Freeman and Payusov very well. Marc Gatcomb made great improvements as well as Mike Cavanaugh praised Gatcomb's efforts right from Summer conditioning.

Newpower and Adam Karashik were outstanding all season helping their four freshman defenseman along. Carter Berger, Jake Flynn, Harrison Rees and Yan Kuznetsov made major improvement. But one of these four and perhaps a healthy Roman Kinal next season will need to pick up the offensive slack in Newpower's absence.

As for the forwards, Jachym Kondelik made strides, improving by a point his freshman playing mostly with fellow Soph's Jonny Evans and Ruslan Iskhakov. And late, freshman sensation Vladislav Firstov...Five goals better than last season, Jachym was more greedy with the puck when he had to. But with his wingers, why would you want to ? This line was held in check down the stretch after a stellar weekend against UNH where they completely dominated.

Mike Cavanaugh played four lines consistently. Gatcomb and Kale Howarth created a lot of havoc. Howarth producing three goals in the last four games. All similar on the rebound as the Huskies started producing dirty goals late in the campaign. And you must give props to the grunge guys like Brian Rigali, Justin Howell and Zach Robbins for just grinding away.

Goaltending from Tomas Vomacka was better than the numbers indicate. Last in the league in Goals against and save percentage. Vomacka made the big save when needed in the big games. The BU weekend he really shined. The home win v UMass was as impressive. After making huge strides in conditioning over the previous summer, I'll be excited what Vomacka does next season.

However if there is one area that needs major improvement next season, it's special teams. The power play struggled all season long. 6 of it's last 50 dating back to December 28th. As for the penalty kill, dead last in Hockey East and the country giving up 31 goals...17 in the second half. Cav mentioned after the sweep of UNH that special teams needed to improve for a long run into March. With Maine being one of the most penalized teams in the league, a physical series was to be expected in Orono and if UConn could covert ?? Well.....

15-15-4/12-10-2 is a considerable improvement. After a 12-20-2/7-15-2 previous year, Coach Cav is a finalist for Hockey East Coach of the Year. I hope he gets some recognition. Stay tuned.

Mega Congrats to the Seniors and their contributions to the program. Who takes over as the leader ? Well Adam Karashik should be the Captain after serving as an alternate this season. A good class again comes to Storrs and the bar will be set higher than ever with the Nucleus that returns IF everyone comes back. Stay tuned.

On behalf of Adam Giardino and myself, thanks for tuning in this season. Hockey is an awesome game to broadcast and I enjoy it thoroughly. What do you say we try this again in October ??

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