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The Forecheck: How Arsenii Sergeev bounced back from his early season struggles

While the goaltender's performance faltered during games, he always knew he'd get back on track.

Photo: Ian Bethune

Welcome to the UConn Hockey Hub newsletter, which catches you up on all the stories, trends, and anything else you might have missed, along with some quick takes and leftover notes from the weekend.

How Arsenii Sergeev bounced back from his early season struggles

When the season began, Arsenii Sergeev led off UConn’s goaltender rotation. He got the nod for the season opener at Colgate and went on to start the first game of every weekend for the first month and a half. Then came November, and Sergeev fell apart between the pipes.

It started with a rough first period at Vermont in which he made a mistake playing the puck that led to a goal and couldn’t stop a savable shot later on in a 4-1 loss, though he recovered during the final two periods. Sergeev’s next outing was worse.

Through 40 minutes at home vs. Merrimack, the net-minder allowed four goals on 12 shots while looking completely lost for most of the night. He got pulled at the second intermission and didn’t play again for nearly two months.

Sergeev didn’t pout or place blame elsewhere, though.

“Unfortunately I didn't have a great start this season,” he admitted. “But I kept practicing — practice is most important for me right now — I did a great job all the time, since the beginning of season. Now, I hopefully get paid back for my previous hard work.”

When everything went wrong for Sergeev, he couldn’t quite pinpoint the root of the problem. He did know how to fix it, though: Relentless hard work.

“I don't know what it had exactly been. I know what exactly I fixed and that’s helped me,” Sergeev said. “Keeping my shoulders over the puck, a little bit forward, it’s helped me to not reach into the pucks and catch them right away in the first place. It's a huge, huge [area of focus] for me, particularly the last four weeks I’d say. It’s small details. It's the small details on the game that helped me. That’s it.”

Through the two months that Sergeev sat on the bench as the backup to Ethan Haider, he didn’t change his approach. Instead, he kept working so that he’d be ready for the next time his number was called.

“You never know when your chance is,” he said. “You put in work and one day it’ll pay off.”

Has it ever. In Sergeev’s first game back, he picked up his first career shutout against a Maine squad that had gone unbeaten in nine straight games. At UNH, he turned away 43 of 44 shots to help UConn earn a desperately-needed 2-1 win.

Since returning, Sergeev has played the best hockey of his collegiate career. Never before has he allowed one goal over a two-game span — his previous low was three goals over two games. Sergeev never stopped putting in the work after losing his spot in the rotation and after all that time away, he’s being rewarded for it.


Last week’s Forecheck

Three stars

First star: Chase Bradley

The junior not only scored the eventual game-winner in Sunday’s contest at UNH, he also came up with a couple huge blocks and laid out for a clearance that sealed the victory — all while dealing with an injury. Bradley now has a team-high nine goals on the year.

Second star: Megan Warrener

The goaltender picked up her fourth shutout of the year in UConn’s 5-0 win over UNH on Sunday and improved to 10-0-1 on the season. She has an incredible 0.83 goals against average and .959 save percentage.

Third star: Kathryn Stockdale

Stockdale had a three point weekend with an assist on Friday’s win over Maine followed by a goal and a helper at UNH. She has 10 points as a senior after managing just 12 through the first three years of her career.

Play of the Week

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The week ahead

UConn men’s hockey will battle in the CT Ice tournament at the XL Center this weekend while UConn women’s hockey will host Vermont for two at Toscano.