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Weekly Roundup: The Hockey East season is off to a disastrous start

The Huskies will also get a major midseason boost.

Welcome to the UConn Hockey Hub newsletter, which will catch 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.

Subscriber News

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Here’s some important information for subscribers:

  • We launched the UConn Hockey Hub Podcast this past week! Aman Kidwai and I look back on last year, preview the new season and break down the Huskies’ opening weekend against UMass. Give it a listen!

  • We also released the first edition of The Film Room, where we dissected UConn’s game-tying shorthanded goal against UMass. Hopefully we’ll have some more game film to break down in the near future.

  • With the Huskies’ schedule up in the air this weekend, we’ll have a couple of bonus stories for you to check out. Keep an eye out for those.

Now let’s get into it:

Maine leaves UConn without an opponent this past weekend

UConn got an unexpected early bye week after the University of Maine suspended winter athletics through Dec. 8, leaving the Huskies without an opponent. UConn tried to schedule a game against a different team but couldn’t work anything out.

This upcoming weekend, the Huskies are scheduled to have a bye, but — like what happened with UMass — could face a different opponent in a “non-conference” matchup. Hockey East said it will announce an upcoming league schedule “later this week,” though.

Overall, the picture for the league is pretty bleak. Maine, Northeastern and Vermont have all suspended athletics completely through varying dates in December. UMass Lowell hit pause after a positive COVID test and UNH appears to be shut down due to positive tests as well, though information from Durham is hard to come by.

In total, there have been just four men’s Hockey East games played so far this season — not one of which was originally on the schedule. That’s a disastrous start for the league, especially considering the full schedule was released less than three weeks ago.

Things aren’t much brighter for the women’s teams, either. Though three series were played during the opening weekend, only BC and Providence faced off this past weekend.

Hockey East is arguably set up better than any other conference in the country to handle the current situation. Every member is located within New England where state-to-state COVID policies are all relatively similar. With it being a one-sport conference, all its resources are put into finding a way to make hockey work as well. But even with all that, there seem to be more problems to solve every day.

Across the country, COVID cases are rising and the numbers are only going to get worse over the next few months. It’s getting very difficult to see how Hockey East can pull off a season right now based on the way the first two weeks have gone. At a certain point, the league will need to realize that its current format isn’t working and will either need to try something new (like a bubble) or suspend the season.

A bubble — though it’s been proven to be effective when done right — might be difficult due to the high cost. Some conference members are struggling to deal with the financial strain of simply testing all of its athletes on a routine basis. The cost of a bubble — the hotel rooms, food, etc. — would likely be prohibitive to the smaller athletic departments in Hockey East.

But if the league really wants to pull off a season, it needs to change because the current model broke after just two weeks because trying to do the same thing over and over while expecting the same results is the definition of insanity.


Some big roster news from Monday:

Along with a new commitment who the staff is *very* high on:

The rest of our coverage from the past week:

Last week’s newsletter:


Friday, Nov. 27

Men’s:Boston College 4, UMass 3

Women’s:Providence 3, Boston College 2

Saturday, Nov. 28

Men’s:Boston College 6, UMass 3

Women’s:Providence 3, Boston College 2

Parting Thoughts

  • Though losing Firstov and Kuznetsov to World Juniors camp is a short-term blow, they’ll have the opportunity to practice (and hopefully play) against some of the best young hockey talent in the world. However you slice it, that’ll be big for their development.

  • If the Huskies can get Carter Berger back from his non-COVID illness and John Spetz back from his injury, they have enough defensemen to handle the loss of Kuznetsov in the short-term. The sophomore hasn’t proven himself to be better than anyone else on the roster so far in his career.

  • Firstov is a tougher hole to fill. Not only is he one of UConn’s best forwards, there aren’t a ton of depth options up top. The Huskies have just 14 forwards for 12 spots (15 if you count John Wojciechowski, who is listed as a forward on the team roster but a defenseman on the line sheets).With Firstov out, that will likely thrust Eric Linell or Gavin Puskar into the lineup. Linell has yet to record a point in 15 career games while Puskar was inactive for the UMass series, so he’s an unknown quantity.

  • However, that depth will be boosted by the addition of Tverberg. UConn believes he can contribute right away, but it’ll be interesting to see if he’s eased into the lineup or gets in right away. Either way, Tverberg is one of the best prospects the Huskies have brought in, so it’ll be fun to see what he can do.

  • UConn’s coaching staff is really, really excited about Chase Bradley’s potential.

  • Between the second game against UMass and whenever its next matchup is, UConn will get either nearly as many — if not more — full team practices in as it did during the preseason (14).

  • I really hope Hockey East (and college sports as a whole) can find a way to make this season happen but I’m becoming less optimistic by the day. At least basketball can push the NCAA Tournament into May or June without any issues. Hockey doesn’t have that kind of flexibility since warmer weather makes more a poor ice surface.