By Josh Hagwell
Over the next few weeks, each of this year’s participants in the Friendship Four will be featured in a brief article, helping the fans learn about the teams and what to expect in November. Next up, the Connecticut Huskies.
The University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies began playing collegiate hockey back in 1960 at the Division III level before becoming Division I in 1998. With longtime head coach Bruce Marshall at the helm, UConn made the jump from NCAA Division III to NCAA Division I. In 58 years of college hockey, UConn has a win percentage of .470.
Recently joining Hockey East for the the 2014-15 season, the UConn hockey team has surprised everyone with the way they have played. While UConn is known for basketball and their continuous success, the hockey team has remained competitive ever since it’s jump to Division I hockey in 1998. Despite continuously being competitive, the UConn men’s hockey team has one conference championship coming back in 2000 while members of the former MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) hockey conference. UConn does not have any NCAA tournament appearances or Hockey East championship appearances.
The Huskies have a couple of alumni that are currently playing in the NHL. Most notably St. Louis Blues draft pick and now Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson as well as fellow St. Louis Blues draft pick turned San Jose Sharks member Maxim Letunov. Todd Krygier who spent 10 years in the NHL from 1989-1998 was also a graduate of UConn.
Players to Watch
Turning to this year’s UConn team, the Huskies have multiple NHL draft picks. Incoming freshman Ruslan Iskhakov is a second round New York Islanders pick who will look to provide some production that was lost with Maxim Letunov signing early with the Sharks. The senior defensive duo of Miles Gendron and Philip Nyberg who were drafted by the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres, respectively, can provide some defensive support in front of New York Rangers pick Adam Huska who will look to backstop the Huskies this year.
When asked about the Friendship Four tournament, Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh had this to say: “I think we are looking forward to playing in a tournament first of all, and competing for a trophy is something that is always at the top of our priority list.” He continued “Going to Ireland and spending a week over there learning about Irish history and seeing how a different culture lives and meeting with the school kids, I think that will be a great experience for us. So overall, I think it’ll be a life experience that they (the players) will remember forever.”