2015-16 Preseason Prospectus
Audio - WHUS 91.7 FM
Live Stats - Gametracker
Twitter - UConnMHOC
STORRS, Conn - The UConn men's hockey team will get the 2015-16 season underway Saturday afternoon hosting Queens University in an exhibition game at the Freitas Ice Forum on campus. The Huskies are begining their second season in Hockey East and will use Saturday's tune-up to get ready for next weekend's opening series at Alabama Huntsville.
Satruday's game will be the Huskies only game at Freitas Ice Forum this season with the remaining 15-home games slated for the XL Center. Admission is free to Saturday's game. The game will be available on the radio at WHUS 91.7 FM and fans can also follow along with live stats via Gametracker.
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Hockey Night in Hartford
Over 75,000 fans enjoyed a “Hockey Night in Hartford” last season as the Huskies burst onto the Hockey East scene in 2014-15, leading the conference in home attendance in their first season of play in the historic league. This season’s 15-game home slate at the XL Center will feature 10 Hockey East games against the likes of defending National Champion Providence as well as Boston College, Boston University, UMass, UMass Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Notre Dame and Vermont. UConn will also play five non-conference games at the downtown Hartford arena with match-ups against Quinnipiac, Arizona State, Army, Brown and Sacred Heart on the docket.
Senior Patrick Kirtland will captain the 2015-16 Huskies with classmate Shawn Pauly and sophomore Derek Pratt donning the “A” as alternate captains.
Kirtland, who was an alternate captain this past season, played in all 36 games in 2014-15, finishing the year with eight points on four goals and four assists. For the second-straight season, he finished leading all UConn forwards in blocked shots, stopping 54 shots.
Pauly, who has never missed a game while at UConn, will enter this season as the team’s top-returning scorer after a 20 point season (5g/15a) a year ago. He posted at least a point in 16 games last year and had a pair of multi-point efforts. He has had 20 points or more in each of his three seasons at UConn and enters his final season with 21 career goals and 41 career assists.
Pratt entered the UConn line-up in game two at Penn State last season and never left, playing 35 games during his rookie year. He finished the season as one of the Huskies top-defenseman and led the team in blocked shots with 67.
The Huskies have eight new faces putting on the UConn jersey for the first time this season and combined, have 18 freshmen/sophomores on this year's roster. Sophomore Spencer Naas leads the youth movement after a stellar rookie season where he led all UConn freshmen with 17 points on 13 goals and four assists. He was the team leader in goals scored and finished second on the team in scoring. Naas ranked sixth in Hockey East in freshmen goal scoring and 11th among the nation's rookies. His 14 goals are second in the UConn Division I record book for freshman goals scored.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh and his coaching staff brought in an impressive recruiting class headed up by a pair of 2014 NHL draft picks in forward Maxim Letunov from Moscow, Russia, a second round pick (52nd overall) by the St. Louis Blues and defenseman Miles Gendron from Shrewsbury, Mass., a third round pick (70th overall) by the Ottawa Senators. Letunov’s rights were acquired by the Arizona Coyotes this past March in a trade that sent established NHL defenseman Zbynek Michalek and a 2015 third round draft pick back to the Blues. The Huskies also welcome two players from the U.S. National Team Development Program to Storrs this season in defenseman Joseph Masonius from Spring Lake, N.J. and forward Tage Thompson from Orange, Conn.
Nichols in Net
Junior netminder Rob Nichols is back in goal after a breakout sophomore campaign. Nichols posted a 2.73 goals against average with a .918 save percentage and racked up 1,052 saves, ranking first in Hockey East and fourth in the country. Nichols became just the second goaltender in UConn history to record over a 1,000 saves in a season and was just one of seven netminders in the country to hit the number last season.
He posted four shutouts, tied for tops in the league and 11th in the nation. His four shutouts all came at home in the XL Center, beating No. 3 ranked Boston College (1-0), No. 5 ranked UMass Lowell (2-0), Merrimack (1-0) and UMass (4-0). Had four games with 40 or more saves (42 at UNH, 41 at Merrimack, 41 at Notre Dame, 41 at Maine).