During its inaugural regular season in the Hockey East Conference, UConn definitely turned some heads. Finishing with an overall record of 10-17-7 and a conference record of 7-11-4, the Huskies will make their playoff debut this weekend, on the road, against the No. 8 seed University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
The Huskies were recently swept in a home and home series against the Wildcats, and were outscored 9-2 in the two games. Head coach Mike Cavanaugh knows the playoffs are a brand new season, and he expects his players to be ready to play against a strong and talented opponent.
“We need to play better. They certainly have a lot of firepower up front that could shoot, and some excellent defensemen in (Brett) Pesce and (Matias) Cleland,” Cavanaugh said. “Their goaltending has been solidified, so they’re a very good hockey team, and they’re playing as well as anyone right now. I think from out standpoint, we just need to play better.”
Cavanaugh’s Huskies got a full practice in on Thursday at the Whittemore Center, and he believes that this will be positive for his team leading into the series this weekend.
“Yeah I think it’s always an advantage, whether it’s at the Whittemore Center, the Conte Forum or Alfond Arena. When you get to practice in it for a day beforehand, you get a feel for what the rink’s like, and the different idiosyncrasies of the building, Cavanaugh said. “So I do think it’s helpful.”
While the stakes are obviously far higher in the postseason, the coach does not want his players to change the parts of their game that has made them successful.
“I think you have to rely on what has made you successful throughout the season. What were those things that you did? I think you have to call on those traits, whatever they may be, and really accentuate them when it becomes playoff time. And trust them,“ Cavanaugh said.
“I think that if you start changing fore-checks, defensive zone coverage, or how you practice for the playoffs, I think that’s more confusing than it is helpful.”
Game 1 of this best of three series is set to begin on Friday night at 7 p.m. The game can be heard live on WHUS 91.7 FM