While UConn men’s hockey is coping with vital turnover at ahead, it returns a veteran staff of defensemen at the blue line.
UConn misplaced 3 blue-liners from remaining season. Ryan Wheeler and Jarrod Gourley each graduated and became professional whilst Carter Berger transferred to Western Michigan. All 3 noticed vital motion — Wheeler performed in each sport whilst Gourley and Berger every neglected one apiece — and contributed to various levels.
Wheeler capped off his occupation with a stellar senior season. He and Harrison Rees shaped the Huskies’ steadiest defensive pairing as they have been first and moment at the staff in blocked photographs (Rees had 49, Wheeler had 42) and Wheeler had the fewest penalty mins of any defenseman, with six.
Gourley had an up-and-down marketing campaign after moving from Arizona State however performed his superb hockey within the postseason. UConn’s hopes for a Hockey East championship sank when he left with an damage within the ultimate — the workforce were hanging him in opposition to UMass megastar Bobby Trivigno, who therefore scored the game-tying objective in a while after Gourley went off.
As for Berger, his departure wasn’t overly unexpected. He was once a wholesome scratch within the season finale in opposition to Vermont after he made a handful of back-breaking errors within the loss to the Catamounts the evening prior to and infrequently equipped sufficient offense to make up for his shortcomings at the defensive finish. Berger had simply the fourth-most issues a few of the blue liners, with 8, whilst his 15 blocked photographs have been fewer than each different defenseman, in addition to 4 forwards.
UConn’s losses at the again finish aren’t insignificant, however it’s not anything the staff can’t conquer.
The Huskies convey again a veteran staff with one fifth-year, two seniors, one junior and a sophomore.
Captain Roman Kinal is the veteran within the staff and springs again regardless of collaborating in senior day remaining season. He’s a robust, defense-first participant however nonetheless controlled to seek out the again of the online thrice remaining season — together with the eventual game-winner within the Hockey East semifinals in opposition to Northeastern. Kinal’s plus-10 was once the second-best plus/minus amongst defensemen, which is particularly spectacular taking into consideration he racked up the second-most penalty mins at the staff with 24.
Rees was once UConn’s superb D-man wire-to-wire. He led the Huskies with 49 blocks and a plus-13 score whilst totaling the second-most issues amongst defensemen with 13 (3 targets, 10 assists). Rees isn’t flashy however he can chip in all over at the ice.
Jake Flynn is coming into his senior yr and remarkably, UConn has two rookies forwards — Mark D’Agostino and Huston Karpman — who’re older than him. Flynn arrived in Storrs as a true freshman directly out of highschool and whilst he was once billed as an offensive defenseman, he’s develop into extra of an all-around participant. He had 10 issues (two targets, 8 assists) in 31 video games remaining season but in addition blocked 40 photographs. Flynn was once relegated to the additional skater spot down the stretch however recovered to re-earn a spot within the pairings for the postseason.
After a standout freshman marketing campaign, John Spetz took a slight step again as a sophomore. He struggled with inconsistency every now and then and wasn’t the similar dominant two-way participant that we noticed the yr prior to. Despite that, Spetz nonetheless led defensemen with 18 issues (4 targets, 14 assists) and blocked 37 photographs. He nonetheless has the possible to be UConn’s superb blue-liner if he may also be extra constant.
Last season, Aidan Metcalfe simplest gave the impression in a single sport — the common season finale when Berger was once benched. He received’t make many highlight-reel performs however confirmed he may also be a succesful fill-in when referred to as upon.
With 3 defensemen out, UConn introduced 3 in new participant: Vermont switch Andrew Lucas, together with rookies Thomas Messineo and Jack Pascucci. While all 3 outgoing d-men have been left-handed, Lucas and Pascucci are each right-handed, which means that Kinal, Messineo and Metcalfe are the one left-shot defensemen at the roster.
Lucas is an offensive defenseman who frolicked as a captain at Vermont. Last season, he had 3 targets and 10 assists for a Catamounts staff that completed tenth in Hockey East, so the Huskies are hoping his manufacturing will build up on a higher staff.
Of the 2 rookies, Messineo is extra offensive-minded. He’s thought to be an elite skater with top possible however nonetheless has quite a lot of construction left. As for Pascucci, he’s very similar to Kinal — a robust, big-bodied, defensive defenseman who can give protection to the entrance of the online.
Assuming UConn continues to make use of the additional skater spot for a defenseman, it’ll get dressed seven gamers on the place every sport. Kinal, Rees, Flynn, Spetz and Lucas are locks to play when wholesome, which leaves two openings for Metcalfe, Messineo and Pascucci. Unless Metcalfe has made vital development over the offseason, Messineo and Pascucci have the scoop to the general two spots.