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UConn men’s hockey to add Ryan Tverberg after holiday break; Firstov, Kuznetsov at Russian World Juniors camp

The Huskies will lose two key players for at least the next two weeks but will add one of their top signees soon after.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey is getting a major midseason boost: Ryan Tverberg, one of the Huskies’ top 2021 commits, will join the team after the holiday break, according to a source.

Tverberg was expected to play in the BCHL with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs this season, but the league delayed its start date until at least Dec. 8. Because of that, UConn’s coaching staff decided they’d rather bring him in now so he can acclimate to the program. They believe he can contribute this year, which will put him in a position to have a breakout season in 2021-22, his “real” freshman year.

And since the NCAA granted all winter athletes an extra year of eligibility this year, Tverberg will still have four years left to play at the end of this bizarre season.

He previously committed to Harvard but flipped to UConn in mid-November. A source described as “a very fast player and explosive skater” with an elite skillset but also isn’t afraid to go into battles to win the puck. Tverberg will be 18 when he arrives in Storrs.

Before the holiday break, UConn will be without two key pieces. Forward Vladislav Firstov and defenseman Yan Kuznetsov are currently away from the program at Russia’s World Juniors camp. The two are vying to become the first NCAA players ever to make a Russian World Juniors squad.

As of now, they’re expected to miss at least two games against Boston College — the Huskies’ final two matchups on the schedule prior to the holiday break — though Hockey East could find an opponent for UConn this upcoming weekend. If either player makes the roster, they could also miss the New Hampshire series and even potentially the UMass series in early January, depending on how far Russia advances as well as quarantine protocols.

As a freshman, Firstov was one of the Huskies’ most productive forwards. He finished with 11 goals (second-most on the team) and 12 assists, good for 23 points on the year — tied for third-best on the squad.

Kuznetsov, meanwhile, totaled two goals and nine assists as the youngest player in college hockey last season. Both players recorded assists in UConn’s opening weekend against UMass.