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UConn men’s hockey lands grad transfer forward, 2004 defenseman

The Huskies turn their focus to the future with two new commitments.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

With the season over, UConn men’s hockey is turning its focus to the future with two new commitments: Kevin O’Neil, a grad transfer forward from Yale, and Kevin Fitzgerald, a 2004 defenseman.

O’Neil will join the Huskies ahead of the 2021-22 season after spending his first three years with the Bulldogs. He was forced to sit out this season after the Ivy League canceled all sports, but was Yale’s fourth-highest scorer in 2019-20 with 17 points (five goals, 22 assists) and has 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in his career.

In three games against UConn, O’Neil recorded two goals and two assists. Standing at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, with a right-handed shot, he’s expected to be an immediate contributor for a UConn squad that should return at least 92 percent of its production from this season. O’Neil will also be a veteran presence with big-game experience, something the Huskies lacked.

Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is a two-way defenseman who skates well with a high hockey IQ and strong skillset. He currently plays for the Brockville Braves in the Central Canadian Hockey League, where he has one goal and three assists in 13 development scrimmages this season.

Fitzgerald had a chance to play major junior hockey after being drafted in the OHL but decided to take the college route instead. He had interest from over 15 teams — including some of the top programs in Hockey East — but ultimately chose the Huskies.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 155 pounds with a left-handed shot, Fitzgerald isn’t expected to come to Storrs until 2022 or 2023, depending on both his own progression and how UConn’s roster shakes out over the next few seasons.

Huskies land local kid as walk-on

UConn will add a walk-on for the 2021-22 season as well. Jake Veilleux, a versatile skater from South Windsor will join the Huskies for next season. He’s described as a versatile player who can slot in at either forward or defense — similar to junior John Wojciechowski.

Born in 2000, Veilleux checks in at 6-feet, 194 pounds with a right-handed shot. He last played for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL, where he totaled three goals and seven assists in 57 games.