Huskies hockey goes through coaching change after resignation
The resignation of Head Coach Bruce Marshall highlighted an up-and-down intersession for the UConn men's hockey team.
Marshall began a medical leave of absence on Nov. 6, during which time Assistant Coach David Berard led the team. There was never any indication that Marshall had coached his final game for the Huskies, but on Jan. 7, the program's all-time winningest coach called it quits.
"During my time away from the program, I determined that this decision was in the best interest for myself, my family and the UConn men's ice hockey team," Marshall said. "I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of the program during my time as a Husky and I wish nothing but success for the team as it continues to make the exciting transition to Hockey East for the 2014-15 season."
Berard will serve as interim head coach until the end of the season, at which time the school will conduct a nationwide search. UConn is expected to have a long list of candidates for the job, which is viewed as one of the best available jobs in college hockey with the Huskies preparing to move to Hockey East after next season.
With Berard behind the bench, UConn posted 5-3-0 record during the winter break, going 3-2-0 in Atlantic Hockey Association play.
After a two-week break for final exams and Christmas, the Huskies got back to work in the UConn Hockey Classic, a two-day event featuring UConn, American International, Brown and No. 18 Minnesota State.
The Huskies had no problem defeating AIC in the opening game, beating the Yellow Jackets 7-2 while earning two points in the AHA standings.
In the championship game the next night, the Huskies put Minnesota State on upset alert, but fell short in their bid, losing 3-1. The lead was only 2-1 before UConn pulled goaltender Matt Grogan for an extra skater.
Grogan saw a lot of minutes over the winter break. The senior started the first three games while the school's all-time wins leader Garrett Bartus was sidelined and unavailable to play and allowed seven goals on 103 shots, posting a 2-1-0 record.
Prior to two relief appearances just before finals, Grogan had not played since the middle of the 2011-12 season, but he impressed Berard enough to make the keep him in the rotation when Bartus returned.
"I think we'll see him," Berard said. "I guess we'll wait and see if it's going to be a 50-50 split the rest of the year. I think what it does is it gives us flexibility. Now that Grogs has broken through and has gotten chance to play, we have confidence and the guys have total confidence. We're really happy with where he is."
Bartus returned in the second game of a two-game set with Penn State. After a back-and-forth, physical first game, a 4-3 win for UConn, the two sides went at it just as hard the second night. Penn State scored 13 seconds into the game, but UConn scored just over a minute later and dominated from there, as they defeated the Nittany Lions 4-1.
The intersession ended with a run of four straight conference games, during which the Huskies went 2-2-0.
During a series in Pennsylvania against Robert Morris, UConn survived a nail biter in the opening game. In the second game, eight penalties forced the Huskies to skate for long stretches against a man-advantage, and that allowed Robert Morris to stay in the game and claim a 4-3 overtime victory.
The Huskies returned home this past weekend for a two-game series against Mercyhurst that could put UConn within striking range of a position that would get them home-ice advantage in the AHA Tournament.
UConn dominated the first two periods of the first game, taking a 4-1 lead into the third period, but the Lakers nearly completed a massive comeback. In the end, the Huskies' struggling power play unit saved the day, going 3-4 in a 5-4 victory. Saturday night was less friendly to the Huskies, as Mercyhurst dominated their way to a 5-0 win.
The Huskies return to action Tuesday night in their final nonconference game of the season against No. 4 Quinnipiac at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. The Bobcats' 16-game unbeaten streak is the longest such streak in the nation.
The puck drops between the in-state rivals at 7 p.m. tonight. WHUS will be broadcasting the game live online.
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