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The UConn Fast Break - 1/13/2023
A new hockey rink is opening, and Geno Auriemma is back on the bench.
Welcome to this week’s Fast Break, and thank you for being a subscriber. Happy Toscano Family Ice Arena Opening Day to those who celebrate.
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Toscano Family Ice Arena opens tonight!
A day that is more than a decade in the making is finally here.
After a ribbon-cutting event on Thursday, Toscano Family Ice Arena will host its first game on Friday when the UConn women’s hockey team hosts Merrimack at 6 p.m.
Both Husky hockey teams will play in a “Grand Opening” doubleheader on Saturday, during which the men will play its first regular season game on-campus — aside from the COVID-19 season — since March 2014.
When UConn joined Hockey East, it included a promise to build a new hockey rink in four years. But the Board of Trustees didn’t approve the rink’s initial plans until 2018 and ground didn’t break until April 2021, almost five years late. Overall, it has been more than 10 years since UConn announced it would be joining the conference to the opening of this barn.
The new home should be a boon for recruiting and the home-ice environment during games. Despite the shortcomings of Freitas Ice Forum, the program will miss its charm, but it was time for a building that will serve UConn hockey in the manner in it deserves.
By the way, check out Daniel Connolly’s in-depth history of the old outdoor rink!
The Legend of Donovan Clingan - The freshman from Bristol has outperformed all reasonable expectations this year.
Golden Eagles clip UConn - The Huskies fell to 4-3 in Big East play.
Huskies fall to No. 6 - A 1-1 week caused a second consecutive two-spot drop in the AP Poll.
Red Storm weathered - Also: the return of Azzi Fudd and Geno Auriemma.
DePaul game postponed - UConn didn’t have seven healthy scholarship players.
Games against Seton Hall, DePaul rescheduled - The Big East re-adjusted UConn’s schedule.
UConn WBB Weekly - The latest newsletter looks at how the team is getting healthy and whether its luck is starting to turn.
Chasing Perfection - The latest podcast talks about the Huskies’ ceiling this season.
A decade in the making - A timeline of events that led to the opening of Toscano Ice Forum.
Remembering Freitas Ice Forum - Between crazy bounces and no mail, the old barn did its job for UConn hockey for nearly 25 years.
Northeastern wins battle of the Huskies - Frozen Fenway wasn’t good to UConn for the second straight iteration.
The story behind the Hook C jerseys - UConn was the only team without special jerseys for Frozen Fenway 2017. Mike Cavanaugh wasn’t about to let that happen again.
Yale on deck in Connecticut tournament - It’ll be a battle of the dogs in the first round of the in-state tournament, which will take place at Quinnipiac.
UConn Hockey Hub Podcast ($) - There’s a new building in town
UConn to play most games on campus ($) - The XL Center will be a secondary home for the Huskies moving forward.
Mora adds pair of transfers - Two defensive players committed to the Huskies via the transfer portal.
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How about a little slow motion? Nika Muhl fights through the contact and is able to lay it in and draw the foul in the Huskies’ win over St. John’s on Wednesday.
It’s UConn’s first game at a new barn, so let’s look back at its first game at its current home, the XL Center.
It was a sellout crowd in downtown Hartford back in 2014 as the Huskies took down No. 3 Boston College 1-0. Evan Richardson scored the game’s only goal midway through the first period and Rob Nichols made 35 saves.
While the crowd on Saturday will be smaller than the more than 8,000 in Hartford that night, the atmosphere will definitely be the same in a landmark moment for the program.
UConn, Great Pic
Ian Bethune was on hand for the ribbon cutting at Toscano Family Ice Arena on Thursday. Check out some pics of the ceremony:
UConn men’s basketball has passed through the toughest part of its schedule. According to a study published in 2021 by Samford University, the home team wins in college basketball more than two-thirds of the time. Part of this is surely due to the buy games that feature high-major powerhouses hosting low-major programs for tune-ups, but teams still play most of their games against conference competition, which mostly feature more fair matchups.
In that light, let’s be patient with the Huskies. After rolling through the first 14 games on their schedule, they have stumbled three times in four tries. This schedule featured just two true road games in Florida and Butler, which are ranked No. 47 and No. 87, respectively, in KenPom’s rankings. In the span of 12 days, UConn went on the road against a trio of top-30 squads, two of which are in the top 20 in Marquette (No. 12) and Xavier (No. 20). These opponents represent three of the five highest-ranked KenPom teams the Huskies have faced thus far.
It’s fine that the Huskies struggled in these environments. The Big East is a slog and road games are tough. That’s not to say that this is a perfect team and there weren’t concerning trends to clean up, but dropping a few games on the road to a trio of NCAA Tournament teams isn’t something to bury the team over. It would’ve been less noticeable if they weren’t stacked together in less than two weeks.
UConn will have the opportunity to rack up wins in the coming days. Five of the next six contests are against opponents ranked 50th or worse and UConn has a greater than 70 percent chance to win each one, according to KenPom. If the Huskies look that poor against the Musketeers and Golden Eagles on their home floor, then we can have that discussion. But for now, let’s not forget how tough this conference can be and the fact that a top-10 UConn team will always get the opponent’s best shot.
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