The UConn Huskies open a new era in program history starting play in Hockey East this season. The Huskies begin the 2014-15 season this weekend with a two-game non-conference series at Penn State. UConn is under the direction of second year head coach Mike Cavanaugh who led the Huskies to 18 wins in his first season at the helm. This weekend’s games are part of the second Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge.
UConn vs. Penn State All-Time Series... The Huskies lead the all-time series, 2-0. The two schools met for the first time on the ice when UConn hosted the Nittany Lions at Freitas Ice Forum during the 2012-13 season, Penn State’s inaugural season as a Division I program. The Huskies swept the two game series, winning 4-3 and 4-1 on their home ice.
Huskies vs. the Big Ten Conference... The Huskies are 2-2-0 all-time versus teams that play in the Big Ten Conference. UConn’s two wins came against this weekend’s opponent, the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Huskies lost to then #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines, 7-5, during the 2006-07 season and fell to the University of Wisconsin, 8-1 at home way back in the 1966-67 season. UConn has never faced Michigan State, Minnesota or Ohio State.
- UConn is in its first season of play in Hockey East. The Huskies were picked 12th out of 12 teams in the league’s annual Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
- The Huskies will play seven teams this season who qualified for the 2014 NCAA Tournament this season including defending national champion Union College.
- Senior forward Ryan Tyson will wear the “C” this season as team captain while senior Trevor Gerling and junior Patrick Kirtland will be alternate captains.
- Of the 26 players on the UConn roster, 11 are new faces (10 freshmen, 1 soph.-transfer).
- Freshman forward Kasperi Ojantakanen will sit out the first four games due to NCAA rules and regulations.
- The Huskies posted a 3-1 win over Dalhousie University in an exhibition game last Sunday.
- Defensively, UConn led Atlantic Hockey and was 14th nationally allowing 2.39 goals per game last season.
- Junior Shawn Pauly (9g-12a-21p) and senior Trevor Gerling (9g-11a-20p) are the top-returning scorers.
Scouting the Nittany Lions… Head Coach Guy Gadowsky begins his third season on the bench at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are coming off the first season of play for the Big Ten Conference where they finished with an 8-26-2 overall record and a 3-16-1 league mark. Penn State faced seven NCAA Tournament teams last season, including three Frozen Four teams. The Nittany Lions begin just their third season as a Division I program this year. Gadowsky will go to work this season with virtually the same team that ended 2013-14, losing just one player while adding a trio of freshmen. R-Senior defenseman Patrick Koudys will wear the “C” on his jersey this season. R-Junior Eric Scheid returns as the team’s top-scorer from a year ago, collecting 20 points on 11 goals and nine assists. Junior goaltender Matthew Skoff saw the majority of minutes in net, posting a 2.95 goals against with a .906 save percentage.
Last Meeting with Penn State... The UConn Huskies swept a home series with Penn State back in 2012-13, the Nittany Lions first year as a Division I program. In game one, the two team’s skated to a 3-3 tie through two periods before UConn’s Patrick Kirtland buried the game-winner at 6:27 of the third. The Nittany Lions held a 42-21 edge on shots but UConn’s Matt Grogan was up to the task, making 39 saves to earn the victory in goal. UConn’s Jordan Sims gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead 28 seconds in to the first period and back-to-back goals by Brant Harris and Shawn Pauly in the second put the Huskies up 3-2. PSU’s Connor Varley knotted the game at 3-3 with a goal at 13:46 of the third before Kirtland’s third period game-clincher. In game two, Penn State’s Casey Bailey gave his team a 1-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game but the Nittany Lions were shut out from there thanks to 42 saves by Garrett Bartus. The Huskies answered with four-straight goals to sweep the weekend set with a 4-1 victory. Pauly scored his second of the series while Sean Ambrosie, Cody Sharib and Trevor Gerling all chipped in with goals. The Husky special teams scored a pair of power play goals and killed of all seven PSU power play chances.
Exhibition Win… UConn posted a 3-1 win over Dalhousie University in an exhibition game last Sunday afternoon from the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum on campus. The Huskies got a goal and an assist from junior forward Joey Ferriss and sophomore defenseman Ryan Segalla while junior forward Shawn Pauly scored on the power play to lead UConn offensively. Freshman Spencer Naas dished a pair of assists in his first collegiate action. Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh used all 26 players on the roster Sunday afternoon while each of the team’s three goaltenders also saw action. Sophomore Rob Nichols, who will open the season in the starting role, earned Sunday’s start and played the first period stopping all seven shots he faced. Senior Tom Comunale got the nod for the second period and also kept Dalhousie off the scoreboard, stopping all eight shots he faced in the period. Rookie Steve Thulin played the third period for the Huskies and made seven saves before giving up a late goal with under two minutes to play. The UConn special teams played well, killing off all five Dalhousie power plays while going one-for-three with the extra skater. The Huskies held a 31-23 edge on shots in the win.
Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge... Fourteen of the country’s most storied college hockey programs will compete this fall in the second Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Nine of 12 Hockey East institutions will join five of the six Big Ten schools in 20 designated games to be played between October 10 and November 29, with 10 games scheduled in Hockey East arenas and 10 in Big Ten venues. A Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge Cup will be presented to the conference that records the most points from the 20 contests. Teams will earn two points for a win, one point for a tie and a bonus point will be awarded for a road win. Should a Big Ten school utilize a shoot-out in any of its home games, it will not factor into the result. Last season, Hockey East won the first-ever challenge, 18-11 on points. The 18 schools within the two conferences have an unparalleled record of success, combining to claim 33 national championships during the 67 seasons that the NCAA has sponsored the sport. Of the 14 schools participating in this year’s Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge, six took part in last season’s NCAA Championship.
Up Next: The Huskies will play their first-ever Hockey East contest next Saturday, October 18th at Merrimack.