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UConn men’s hockey’s 2022-23 non-conference opponents nearly set

The Huskies will also return a key defenseman while a handful of players hit the transfer portal.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey’s 2022-23 non-conference schedule is almost complete with just one game yet to be finalized. The Huskies will play six games at home, one on the road and at least two, but possibly three, on neutral ice.

Ohio State will come to Connecticut for two games, continuing a home-and-home series after the Huskies traveled to Columbus this past season. The Buckeyes were slated to visit the XL Center during the 2020-21 campaign before Hockey East canceled all non-conference play as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. UConn is 0-4-2 against Ohio State under Mike Cavanaugh and was swept in a weekend set last season.

The Buckeyes were one of the biggest surprises last season, bouncing back from a 7-19-1 record the year prior to go 22-13-2. They ended the year as the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament.

UConn will also host Union for two games at home. Since winning the 2014 national championship, the Dutchmen have fallen out of the national picture with back-to-back losing seasons sandwiching a canceled 2020-21 campaign. This past year, Union went 14-19-4 and has never beat the Cavanaugh and the Huskies, who hold a 1-0-1 advantage in the series.

The lone road game UConn will play during the non-conference portion of the schedule will come as part of a home-and-home set with LIU. The Sharks are an independent program entering just their third season of Division I hockey and have compiled a 13-31-3 record so far. They play their home games at Northwell Health Center and the Islanders Iceworks — both of which are owned by the New York Islanders.

The Huskies will also take on Alaska Fairbanks at home in a one-off matchup. UConn has never faced the Nanooks — who went 14-18-2 this season — with Cavanaugh at the helm.

The final two confirmed games on the Huskies’ non-conference schedule are during Connecticut Ice, the tournament that pits Connecticut’s four Division I men’s teams against each other. Assuming the opening round matchup continues to be rotated, UConn should play Sacred Heart in the first round.

UConn’s only game that still needs to be finalized is a meeting with Cornell at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies have played at both the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Prudential Center in Newark during their Hockey East Era, but never MSG. They’ve never faced the Big Red during Cavanaugh’s tenure, either. Cornell is coming off an 18-10-4 campaign in 2021-22.

Non-conference opponents

Home

Ohio State (x2)
Union (x2)
Alaska Fairbanks
LIU

Away

LIU

Neutral

Connecticut Ice at Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport (x2)

Cornell at Madison Square Garden in New York City (not yet finalized)

Roman Kinal to return

UConn’s defensive corps got a boost with Roman Kinal set to return for his redshirt senior season. While he participated in senior day, the door was always left open for him to come back for a fifth year.

An alternate captain last season, Kinal played in all 36 games, recording three goals — including the eventual game-winner in the Hockey East semifinals vs. Northeastern — and four assists on the year. In his career, the defenseman has racked up five goals and 15 assists.

Kinal missed his entire sophomore campaign due to a blood clot. He returned in 2020-21 but only saw action in 16 of 23 games due to a knee injury.

Along with Kinal, UConn will also bring back seniors Jake Flynn and Harrison Rees, junior John Spetz and sophomore Aidan Metcalfe. The Huskies will add freshmen Thomas Messineo and Jack Pascucci, and are hoping to land a transfer as well.

Transfer portal departures

UConn has seen five players enter the transfer portal this offseason: Sophomores Cassidy Bowes (0-0—0 in 11 games), Gavin Puskar (did not dress) and Artem Shlaine (7-10—17 in 36 games) along with freshman Sasha Teleguine (1-2—3 in 20 games) up top and junior defenseman Carter Berger (1-7—8 in 35 games).

So far, three have found new homes: Puskar will head to Brown, Shlaine landed at Northern Michigan and Berger ended up at Western Michigan.