The University of Connecticut opens up their season this weekend with a pair of games in Mankato, Minnesota against Minnesota State. The game is only the first of this season, but also the first games for new UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh spent the past 18 seasons as an assistant to Jerry York at Boston College, the winningest college hockey coach of all time, and now has control of his own program.
UConn is a program on the rise. After not granting scholarships to players to help the school comply with Title IX regulations for many years, the Huskies granted five full scholarships, split among multiple players this season, and will increase the number of scholarships granted yearly until they reach the NCAA maximum of 18. They'll make the move from Atlantic Hockey to play in Hockey East next year. The school is also working on plans for a new hockey arena.
With all that on the horizon, it's easy to focus on the future for UConn, but after a 19-14-4 season last year, including a 10-3-2 run to end the season has the Huskies focused on what they can do this season.
The Huskies will play this weekend's series against Minnesota State a bit shorthanded. Senior captain Brant Harris, UConn's leading returning scorer last year (15-1-31) is out 6-8 weeks with a sprained knee. Another senior forward, Billy Latta, will miss Friday's game due to a suspension, while sophomore Patrick Kirtland will sit out both games this weekend due to suspension.
Meanwhile, Minnesota State is trying to rebound after an ugly start to their season with a pair of losses at Providence last weekend. The Mavericks came out of that weekend with some ugly stats, including a 1.6% shooting percentage, a power play that is scoreless on 16 attempts, and 76 minutes worth of penalties.
On the injury front, sophomore forward Dylan Margonari missed last Saturday's game with an upper body injury, and is questionable to play this weekend. This leaves Minnesota State with only 12 healthy forwards on the roster.
We'll have live coverage from Friday's game at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato. Follow @sbncollegepuck and @ChrisDilks on Twitter for live updates from the game, and check back here for lots of post-game coverage.