Sept. 27, 2013
Game Notes (PDF)
STORRS, Conn. -- The first game for Head Coach Chris MacKenzie will take place this weekend as he leads the UConn women's ice hockey team (0-0, 0-0 WHEA) against the Union Dutchwomen (0-0, 0-0 ECAC) on Saturday afternoon. Puck drop at Freitas Ice Forum is set for 2 p.m.
MacKenzie inherits a squad that is coming off a pair of disappointing seasons, but returns 17 letterwinners and its top five scorers from a year ago. Among the Huskies returners are Kayla Campero (Wallingford, Conn.), who led UConn with 18 points in 2012-13, and Michela Cava (Thunder Bay, Ontario), who was tops on the squad with 10 goals.
Recently, MacKenzie tabbed senior Erin Burns (Listowel, Ontario) to captain the 2013-14 Huskies, and juniors Caitlin Hewes (Stillwater, Minn.) and Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamis, New Brunswick) as her two assistant captains. Burns was a steady presence on the defense last season, playing in 34 games for the Huskies after coming to Storrs as a Syracuse transfer. Hewes was a Hockey East All Star honorable mention after talling seven points from the blue line, while MacDonnell led UConn with 12 assists, finishing second on the team with 17 total points.
Below is a transcript of MacKenzie from the preseason Hockey East coaches teleconference, in which he breaks down the upcoming season, the schedule and the league as a whole.
On the preseason and expectations for the team this season:
"We're just getting to know each other right now as a team. Personally, I'm really excited to get back on the east coast as a coach. Connecticut has been very welcoming. We are just starting to get on the ice this week and the first official practice will be Saturday (Sept. 21). My expectations are that we reach our potential and do our very best. It's that simple. The preseason poll has us in a spot that are what the expectations currently are and I think we need to change those in a short time.
On short and long term goals for the program:
"The immediate short term goals will just be installing our systems. Some will be similar to what they've done before, some will be different. We need to get into the way that we want to play and installing habits so they become instincts so there's not as much thinking. The long term is to bring the program back to some of the success they've had in the past and beyond that. I think that's the expectations for any program.
On the importance of playing a lot of home games early on in the season:
"I think it's great. As far as game advantage, we will have the last change so we can get the matchup we want and learn a lot about your team that way. I'm also very excited about the Duluth trip. It's just a great, early season trip. We'll bring everyone for that and there will be some team bonding and an opportunity to play a great team, that's always in the top ten in the country. That'll be a real nice trip to get out there together.
On getting most of Connecticut's top scorers back this season
"We do have the five leading scorers back so I think that will help just with the experience that they have. Hopefully the change or refresh button will be exciting for them as it is for me. We haven't been on the ice yet so nobody has really stood out so far. I've been really happy with the off-ice conditioning however.
On the Connecticut's goalies heading into this year:
"I know Sarah Moses real well because I coached her at Niagara. Elaine Chuli I know very well because I recruited her to the other school I was at. I know them pretty well. My hope is that we're strong in net this year and we can build our team out from there.
On his role in recruiting the freshmen to UConn this year:
"I have yet to recruit anyone to UConn. There were seven newcomers this year from the previous coaching staff. Those players seem to be great people. There's obviously going to be an adjustment stage like any other freshmen but they're bringing a lot of energy and we will see how it goes when we get on the ice and get after it.
On the other new faces on the coaching staff
"I've known Casey Handrahan for a long time and what's exciting is that he's had quite a lot of professional hockey experience. He's had different experiences with different coaches and that's kind of molded what he is today. He's been a head coach at the collegiate level and that type of experience really helps our program. Jaclyn Hawkins was an excellent player here at UConn and has ton of passion for our school. Really excited to work with these two and have them here. We are getting along and that's always a good thing.
On the strength of the league this season
"It seems like it's going to be a very competitive league. There are no easy games. Wherever anyone is ranked in the preseason poll it won't matter once the puck is dropped. The poll is something to talk about before the season. Expectations can harm you, hurt you or motivate you. One fear is that we settle into that expectation and not drive ourselves out of that. I respect all the coaches in the league and I'm excited to compete against them and help Connecticut grow."
After the Union contest, UConn hits the road for a trip to the Midwest and two games with Minnesota-Duluth on Oct. 5 and 6.