Last year, the preseason coaches’ poll put the Huskies in fourth, surprising some people. But lo and behold, that’s where UConn did indeed finish, earning home ice in the playoffs and a trip to Rochester.
“We’d had a tough season (in 2005-06) and lost 12 games in a row at the end,” said coach Bruce Marshall. “But the coaches in the league knew we were better than that. We weren’t the Bad News Bears.”
This season, with the departure of Matt Scherer, Cole Koidahl and 10 other seniors, it’s going to be a challenge to build on last year’s success. Is it a rebuilding year in Storrs?
“If we’re rebuilding, my assistants haven’t done their jobs,” laughed Marshall, in his 20th season behind the bench at UConn. “Seriously, they’ve done a great job of bringing in a great group of kids.”
A total of 15 freshmen are on the roster, and Marshall hopes they can get up to speed quickly.
“Talent-wise we know they can play at this level,” he said. “We like what we’ve seen in practice, but we’ll really see what they can do in game situations. They’ll need to adjust quickly.”
A key to the Huskies’ success last year was the emergence of goaltender Beau Erickson (2.92 GAA).
“He really established himself last season,” said Marshall. “We were really pleased with the way he took over the starting job.”
The Huskies’ captains this season will be senior forward Charles Solberg and junior defenseman Sean Erickson.
“They lead by example,” said Marshall. “They’ll be key in bringing the freshmen along. Showing them how to work hard and doing the little things. Showing them what UConn hockey is all about.”
The Huskies will again hold an in-season tournament, playing Army in a league game in the first semifinal, with Brown and Ferris State playing in the other.
“We’re excited to get these teams in,” said Marshall. “It’s good for Atlantic Hockey to bring teams into our barns. We’re seeing more and more of that and it shows the growth of the league.”