Friday before spring break, UConn men’s hockey expected to be playing the Maine Black Bears at Alfond Arena in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Playoffs. The Huskies still took the ice that day, but they weren’t in Maine. Instead, they were at Freitas Ice Forum playing each other after the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the conference tournament along with all other sports in the United States.
With the season unexpectedly over, UConn gathered one last time to play 4v4 for 90 minutes with the team managers coaching each squad. With four different teams, they played each other in a round robin before moving to a single-elimination tournament.
Afterwards, everyone gathered in the lobby for an informal banquet where the team awards were presented by the coaching staff.
The first honor was the Thomas Jacquard Award, which recognizes a hardworking and dedicated freshman. It’s named after Thomas Jacquard, a freshman on 1989 team who tragically died in a car accident on his way home for Thanksgiving Break. Then-head coach Bruce Marshall said Jacquard’s dedication to the team was evident even in the limited time he was in Storrs and the award was created in his honor.
Yan Kuznetsov was this year’s recipient after a campaign in which he played in 34 games and recorded two goal along with nine assists (11 points).
Next up was the Most Valuable Player, which went to Ben Freeman. The senior co-captain led the team with 28 points thanks to seven goals and 21 assists and finished 10th in Hockey East with a .562 face-off win percentage. Freeman also took home the 7th Player Award, given to the man that every other player wants on their side, voted upon by the players themselves.
He wasn’t the only captain to earn some hardware, though. Wyatt Newpower received the Silver Bowl, which recognizes a senior who epitomizes UConn men’s hockey and consistently exemplifies what it means to be a Husky both on and off the ice. Throughout the season, head coach Mike Cavanaugh frequently praised Newpower for his leadership abilities, often crediting the senior with righting the ship during rough patches.
With the regular season over, Hockey East also doled out its annual postseason awards. Newpower was named the ‘47 Best Defensive Defenseman, ranking fifth in the conference with a +23 +/-, while he also earned a Hockey East Second Team All Star nod.
Freeman picked up the Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award and as a team, UConn received the Charlie Holt Team Sportsmanship Award for the least penalty minutes in the conference.
Vladislav Firstov was named to the All-Rookie Team after finishing second on the team with 11 goals and racking up 23 points overall.
After leading the Huskies to its most points ever in Hockey East, Cavanaugh was named a finalist for the conference’s Coach of the Year Award, though he eventually lost out to UMass Lowell’s Norm Bazin.
Elsewhere, 2021 commit Tabor Heaslip was an All-NEPSAC First Team selection.