Last season was a classic rebuilding project for the Connecticut Huskies, who rostered 13 freshmen.
“We came on strong at the end of last season, and we can build on that,” said coach Bruce Marshall. “We had our peaks and valleys but this year we’ll be able to focus on some new things and not spend so much time teaching the way we had to last season.”
The Huskies won their last four regular-season games in 2008-08 and took Sacred Heart to three games in the quarterfinals. A key to the strong finish was the play of Beau Erickson in net. The junior saw a whopping 1,037 shots last season, and stopped 947 of them for a .913 save percentage.
“You see that potential in a player and you hope for the best but it’s the work ethic that makes a difference,” said Marshall. “We knew he was going to be pretty special.”
A year of experience and staying healthy should help improve an offense that averaged almost a goal a game less than the year before.
“We were decimated by injuries (last season),” said Marshall. “We lost Sean Erickson in December and that was huge. And the freshmen learned how hard it is to score in this league, how much work it takes to get a goal.”
Andrew Olson learned fast. The rookie led the Huskies in goals (14) and points (24) last season. Also returning are juniors Chris Ochoa (23 points) and Mike Coppola (eight goals).
The Huskies skated four freshmen on defense last year, and return their entire blueline corps, lead by Sean Erickson.
UConn opens the season in Alaska, playing games at both Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Marshall. “The last time we went up there was in ’84 when I was a player and then in ’86 when I was an assistant coach, so it’s been a while. We’ll have a weekend off then and get right into things with Army. It’s a great schedule and we can’t wait to drop the puck.”