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2015-16 University of Connecticut Hockey Season Preview

Connecticut sophomore forward Spencer Naas
Connecticut sophomore forward Spencer Naas
Matt Dewkett

Mike Cavanaugh's squad surpassed expectations in their first season in Hockey East, tying Maine for ninth place in the conference despite averaging 1.83 goals per game. UConn still doesn't possess the talent needed to vault itself into the upper echelon of Hockey East this year, but the program is certainly headed in the right direction.

Goaltender Rob Nichols should continue to impress in net after posting four shutouts and starting in all but one of the Huskies' games last season. However a young defensive corps consisting of five underclassmen often made life difficult for Nichols, who ranked fourth in the nation with 1,052 saves in 2014-15.

A talented freshman class should alleviate some of the Huskies' woes both up front and on the blue line, with forwards Maxim Letunov and Tage Thompson, along with defensemen Miles Gendron and Joseph Masonius, expected to step into major roles from the outset.

Growing pains will certainly still be on display at the XL Center this season, but the gap between the Huskies and the conference's elite is closing faster than expected.

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By Jeff Cox

The Huskies coaching staff continues to elevate the talent level in Storrs, but a lot has to go right in year two of Hockey East in order for UConn to be successful. While there is more skill in place, there is still a lack of depth, especially up front.

Can Rob Nichols withstand another year's worth of workload without wearing down in February and March? Will the defense be better equipped to be more aggressive and take control of the time of possession? Can players like Spencer Naas and Shawn Pauly continue to get better and provide more of an offensive spark? There's no doubt four freshmen are very talented, but can they contribute right away?

All of those are intriguing questions, but one thing is for certain. Mike Cavauagh has UConn on the rise.