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UConn Men’s Hockey Notebook: Start of Division I season delayed

The Huskies also named a new captain, the NCAA changed the overtime format, and a handful of former players signed pro contracts.

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Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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From The UConn Blog:


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In the News

Hockey Commissioners Association delays start of season

In a move that’s been long-expected, the typical October start of the Division I ice hockey season has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news was announced on Friday by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) who represent all 11 DI hockey conferences.

Moving forward, each conference will decide how and when to return to play. According to College Hockey News, Hockey East could start its season “as early as November.” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh told The UConn Blog that he believes the status of his team’s season will not be decided by the conference, however, but by the University.

“If our basketball team isn’t playing this winter, how can they let the hockey team play, you know?” Cavanaugh said. “That’s the thing, I think there’s got to be equity among the department. Those decisions are going to be made by David Benedict, President [Thomas] Katsouleas, and to a larger extent, probably our governor.”

The NCAA is expected to announce its plans for the college basketball season on Wednesday, which should provide clarity for the Huskies’ hockey programs as well.

Karashik named captain

Adam Karashik will wear the captain’s “C” on his jersey for the 2020-21 season. The senior defensemen will head UConn’s leadership group that includes fellow seniors Brian Rigali and Zac Robbins as well as junior Carter Turnbull.

“It is an amazing honor to be selected as captain by my teammates and coaches,” Karashik said in a release. ”Since I have been here, not only have amazing players worn the ‘C’ but they were also amazing people. It is something I take great pride in. I can’t wait to represent my team and the University of Connecticut next season.”

Karashik had previously served as an assistant captain last season. Though the players decide the captain through a team vote, Cavanaugh believes Karashik is the right choice to lead the squad.

“He’s been the epitome of what we want in a UConn hockey player,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s a 3.0 or better in school. He’s diligent off the ice. He works his ass off on the ice. He’d do anything to help our team win. He eats pucks, he brings so much energy to our locker room. I feel really good about him.”

Through three years, Karashik has appeared in 96 games, totaling 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) and blocking 147 shots. Last season, he ranked second in Hockey East with 51 blocks.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Firstov, Kuznetsov have shot at history

Vlad Firstov and Yan Kuznetsov spent part of their offseason at the Russia World Junior camp, where both impressed — according to Cavanaugh.

“They both did very, very well over there,” he said.

Rosters have still yet to be announced, but if either player makes the cut, it would be the first time anyone who’s played in college will be on the Russian team.

As of now, the World Junior Championships are scheduled to be held from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Alberta, Canada.

Updated overtime rules

College hockey overtime rules are changing for the 2020-21 season. In July, the NCAA approved a change where games still tied at the end of regulation will begin a five-minute, sudden death 3-on-3 overtime period. If neither teams score, the game will go into the books as a tie.

The previous overtime format called for a five-minute, sudden death 5-on-5 period if the game was tied at the end of regulation, but there was no consensus on the rules from conference to conference. While a game would end in a tie if nobody scored in overtime during Hockey East games, some conferences would use a three-player shootout to decide a winner.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Pro signings

Plenty of former UConn players are continuing their respective careers in the pros.

Karl El-Mir is re-signing with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL, where he spent the latter half of last season after being traded from the Indy Fuel in January. In 34 games with both teams, El-Mir racked up 19 points.

Staying in the ECHL, Miles Gendron signed with the Newfoundland Growlers after bouncing around with four different teams in 2019-20 — including a stint with the Growlers.

“I’m super excited to be back with the Growlers,” Gendron said in a release. “I was really upset when the season ended. I felt like I was just starting to catch my stride with the Growlers (at the end of last season). It was such a great place to be. I really enjoyed it (in St. John’s). It really felt like you were in a big-time pro atmosphere.”

Max Kalter is also sticking around with his club as the forward re-upped with Hockey Club de Cergy-Pontoise, a team in the French Magnus League.

Meanwhile, Ben Freeman will be staying in his home state of Maine to begin his professional career as he signed with the Maine Mariners in the ECHL. Freeman hails from Falmouth, Maine — the town directly north of Portland, where the Mariners play.