UConn hockey to face Sacred Heart at home
The UConn men's hockey team will play in-state conference rival Sacred Heart tonight at the Freitas Ice Forum before travelling to North Andover, Mass. to take on Hockey East side Merrimack.
The Huskies (0-4-1, 0-3-0 Atlantic Hockey Association) will be without Coach Bruce Marshall. On Tuesday, the team announced that Marshall would be taking a medical leave of absence. Marshall is expected to be okay, as the situation is not deemed serious, but there is no timetable for his return.
While Marshall is on leave, Assistant Coach David Berard will assume the head coaching responsibilities. Berard is in his second season as an assistant at UConn and says that nothing changes with Marshall not behind the bench.
"Everything's the same," Berard said. "This is his program. It's going to be his program when he gets back. We're just kind of the caretakers until that time happens. Nothing changes. Our philosophy is the same. We developed the philosophy together as a coaching staff. And because he's not physically present, we're not changing anything. We've got a belief in what we do and how we need to do it."
The team needs to move on without Marshall for the time being and continue their pursuit of the ever-elusive first win of the season.
The Huskies have struggled on both sides of the puck, but mainly on offense. UConn has four goals in its first five games and is a meager 1-31 on the power play, a 3 percent efficiency thus far on the season.
The top two offensive lines have not produced in the manner that they had hoped to at this point in the season, but senior captain and center Sean Ambrosie remains confident in their offensive capabilities.
"I think the mindset at practice this week is finish every chance you have and try to put everything in the net, work harder in the smaller areas around the net to put the puck in the net," Ambrosie said. "We know that we've been pretty unlucky through the first five games with bounces and posts, but it's going to come if we keep working at it."
This weekend, UConn begins at home with an AHA rivalry game. Then the Huskies will move out of conference for a difficult road game against a future conference foe in Merrimack. Despite the two games, Berard stressed that the focus is on the conference matchup with Sacred Heart.
"Friday night is the focus," Berard said. "It's a league opponent. It's a huge game. Even though they haven't won in the league, last year we were 1-1-1 against them. They're going to play us tough. They're an interstate rival. We just have to go out there and play the best hockey we can play and try to get two league points. That's huge. When we get to 9:30 on Friday night and that game's in the bank, we'll start concentrating on Merrimack and that will be a different challenge, obviously an away game in a Hockey East building, and we'll attack that on Saturday."
Friday's game begins at 7:05 p.m. at the Freitas Ice Forum on the UConn campus. Puck drop for Saturday's game in Massachusetts is at 7 p.m. Both games can be heard live on WHUS 91.7 FM.
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