The UConn men’s hockey team heads out to the Rocky Mountains this weekend for a two-game road series in Colorado Springs, CO with conference rival Air Force.
This weekend’s series with the Falcons (14-8-4, 9-5-3 AHA) is yet another leg in the gauntlet of Atlantic Hockey opponents the Huskies (12-7-4, 10-4-3 AHA) have run since the start of the New Year. All of their last eight contests were conference tilts – a stretch on which the team holds a 5-1-2 record.
“When we started the month of January, I told the kids, ‘The first half of the season – October, November, December – that’s like the first two rounds of the Masters,’” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “‘We made the cut. We played well enough to put ourselves in position to win the league. January is Saturday, that’s moving day. We’re on hole 15 now, let’s make sure we finish it off and continue to get some points and put them on the board.’”
Cavanaugh said he has been pleased with the way the team has performed in what has been a particularly crucial stage of the season in terms of postseason implications, but that it is equally crucial for the Huskies to end the month on a high note.
“I’m happy with the way we’ve played in January, however we have to finish this month off,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s two big points against a team that’s two points below us in the standings. And we all know [Air Force has] been probably the top team in [Atlantic Hockey] for the last five or six years.”
Air Force is a team that has had its share of peaks and valleys this season, with two wins over nationally-ranked teams in Providence and Northeastern – then ranked No. 5 and No. 16 in the country, respectively – and losses against Mercyhurst and Robert Morris, falling to the former 8-2 on Nov. 2 before being swept by the latter in a two-game series on Jan. 24-25.
Despite their recent pitfalls, Cavanaugh said Air Force remains a stout opponent, especially when considering the Falcons trail third-place UConn by only two points and are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.
“I’ve been able to coach against [Air Force] a couple of times, and [Air Force head coach] Frank Serratore is a very experienced coach,” Cavanaugh said. “He has them playing very disciplined. They play structured hockey, and they very rarely beat themselves.”
Cavanaugh said he expects the Falcons to come back from last weekend’s sweep at the hand of Robert Morris with a vengeance, and that the Huskies will have to stay on their toes against an Air Force team that boasts a 7-1-2 home record this season.
“They’re 5-1-1 at home in the league, so it’s certainly a formidable opponent that we’ll have on our hands,” Cavanaugh said. “They just got swept at Robert Morris, so you know that this is going to be a rough week at practice, they’re going to be pretty angry, and we’re going to have our hands full. We are going to have to come out and play our very best hockey.”
Senior forward Jordan Sims could become the second UConn player to join the 100-point club this season, as the Toronto native heads out to Colorado with career totals of 97 points (35 goals, 62 assists) in 133 games. Senior forward and captain Brant Harris was the first Husky to reach the 100-point plateau this season, doing so on Jan. 18 against Mercyhurst.
Puck drop for Friday night’s game is scheduled for 9:05 p.m., while Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. start. Coverage of both games can be heard on 91.7-WHUS radio.