UConn men’s hockey is taking no chances in the second half. After bringing in goaltender Matt Pasquale to add depth between the pipes, the Huskies are doing the same thing at defense.
The team announced Tuesday that Bryan Nelson will return for the remainder of the year. The Upton, Massachusetts native spent a season and half with UConn before leaving the program to focus on academics as an engineering major. He appeared in just four games, all of which came during his freshman year in 2016-17.
Prior to Nelson’s arrival, the Huskies have spent the entire season with just seven healthy defensemen after blood clots forced sophomore Roman Kinal to miss the entire year. With six defensive pairs and an extra skater on the lineup, it left UConn thin at the position if injuries hit.
Health issues have plagued the Huskies all season long. The injury bug hit the team during the first semester before multiple illnesses swept through the locker room early in the second half.
During the November series against Providence, UConn did not make a single healthy scratch in the Friday night game and on Saturday, and the Huskies couldn’t even dress an extra skater. After Vladislav Firstov was ejected for a game misconduct penalty, the team was forced to play with just 17 skaters instead of the usual 18.
While it’s unlikely Nelson sees the ice for UConn unless injuries or illnesses hit again, the possibility shouldn’t be totally eliminated. He’s regarded as an extremely hard worker and could find his form after spending some time back on the ice.
UConn’s next action comes this weekend at the first-ever Connecticut Ice Festival, a Beanpot-style tournament between Connecticut’s four Division I ice hockey programs.