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UConn men’s hockey looking to schedule games before Christmas, open to non-conference play

The Huskies’ players won’t be going home for Christmas, for Mike Cavanaugh wants to find an opponents so they can play.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

As of now, UConn men’s hockey’s last action of 2020 will be this weekend against Boston College. However, the Huskies are working to schedule extra games for Dec. 18-20 — the final weekend before Christmas — according to head coach Mike Cavanaugh.

In a normal year, college hockey takes a two-week break at the end of December so everyone can return home for the holidays. But with the pandemic, players would’ve had to quarantine when they returned to campus which would’ve forced UConn to postpone its series against UNH on Jan. 1-2.

“I gave them the option,” Cavanaugh said. “I said, ‘If you guys want Christmas off, I’m going to get let you go home for Christmas and we won’t be able to play on January 1 and 2 because we’ll have to quarantine when we get back on the 26th. But I want to give you that option. You guys can have Christmas off.’”

However, the team voted unanimously to stay on campus over the break — a move that surprised Cavanaugh. So because the players will be on-campus, the coach wants to find them a game (or two) to play ahead of Christmas.

“We’re trying to find a game before Christmas now. We’re in the midst of trying to find games to play the week before Christmas,” Cavanaugh said. “My players are going to be here, I want to find games for them.”

UConn’s women’s basketball team made a similar decision of choosing the opportunity to play games over returning home for Christmas.

So far, the Huskies’ (and by association, Hockey East’s) season has been a mess. Their last two opponents both called off games because of COVID issues and though the league planned to start on Nov. 21, not a single originally-scheduled men’s conference matchup has been played so far. UConn’s upcoming series against Boston College will be the Huskies’ third and fourth games of the season.

At one point, six of Hockey East’s 11 men’s programs were shut down in some capacity due to the virus. With so much instability in the league and plenty of other teams in the region, Cavanaugh said he’s open to play out-of-conference games, but would need to get permission from Hockey East to do so.

“The league wants us to play only league opponents,” he said. “So if we get okay from the league and they sign off on that, I’d be happy to talk to Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart. They’re right in-state and close trips.”

Cavanaugh also mentioned AIC, Holy Cross or “anybody within an hour’s drive of campus” as opponents he’d be open to scheduling.

If Hockey East does allow UConn to play non-conference opponents, that would certainly give the Huskies more flexibility for finding a dance partner for a game or two next weekend.

But — as always — things are always subject to change.