Huskymania

By Ken Best

Tracking Huskymania on and off the field.

Women’s Ice Hockey Hits Stride in Battle Against Breast Cancer

Elaine Chuli ’16 (CLAS), Emily Walsh ’15 (CLAS), Maude Blain ’13 (CLAS), Cassandra Opela ’16 (ED) and Sarah MacDonnell ’15 (CLAS). (Brendan Flynn for UConn Today)

Jonathan joins members of the women’s ice hockey team in the special jerseys the team will wear Friday against Providence in the Skating Strides game to benefit breast cancer. From left: Elaine Chuli ’16 (CLAS), Emily Walsh ’15 (CLAS), Maude Blain ’13 (CLAS), Cassandra Opela ’16 (ED) and Sarah MacDonnell ’15 (CLAS). (Brendan Flynn for UConn Today)

With a roster of primarily freshmen and sophomores, the women’s ice hockey team is demonstrating resilience both on and off the ice.

“We’re a very, very young team,” said head coach Heather Linstad. “The future is bright as long as the young kids are taking the amount of ice time as a positive experience. If they’re learning and building their confidence things will happen.”

This weekend’s home-and-home Hockey East series with Providence begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum and is designated as the Huskies’ Skating Strides game. The series continues Saturday in Providence.

Skating Strides is a fundraising effort to support The Friends of Mel Foundation, a breast cancer support organization that the women’s ice hockey team has embraced since its launch by Hockey East in 2005. The team conducted a clinic for girls ages 5 to 12-years-old, and will sell special pink game jerseys the team will wear during tonight’s game.  Team members were selling pink tee-shirts and pink paper ice skates at the Student Union this past week that fans can also buy at Freitas Ice Forum on game day as part of the fundraising effort.

“I’m passionate that we give back,” Linstad said. “We know [breast cancer] is going to affect our locker room. It’s a learning experience for our student-athletes in giving back. It’s been a good thing for them. They’ve’ been very creative with it.”

Funds raised by the Huskies are contributed to local breast cancer programs such as the Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital and Necessity Bags CT.

Since its inception, Hockey East has raised almost $200,000 for the fight against breast cancer and the Huskies have led all teams by raising an average of $10,000 per year for a total of nearly $60,000.

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The men’s basketball team (14-5, 4-3 Big East) outlasted Providence (10-11, 2-7) by a score of 82-79 on Thursday led by Shabazz Napier ’14 (CLAS), who scored 8 of his 18 points in overtime.

Ryan Boatright ’15 (CLAS) led scoring for the Huskies with 19 points, DeAndre Daniels ’15 (CLAS) had 18 and Omar Calhoun ’16 (CLAS) scored 13.

In an old-style, knock down Big East contest the score was tied 15 tmies, there were 10 lead changes and five players fouled out of the game, including the Husky front court –Tyler Olander ’14 (CLAS), Enosch Wolf ’14 (CLAS) and Daniels. The Friars out-rebounded UConn by 55 to 24.

Providence was led in scoring by junior forward Kadeem Batts, who had 20 points, and junior guard Bryce Cotton, who scored 18 points.

The Huskies are back on the court at 2 p.m. on Sunday against South Florida (10-10, 1-7) at Gampel Pavilion.

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With just six points separating nine teams bunched up in the standings behind league-leading Niagara in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, the men’s ice hockey team hits the road for two conference games against Rochester this weekend.

The Huskies (10-11-3, 7-8-1 AHA) and Rochester (8-11-5, 6-7-4 AHA) are tied in eighth place with 16 points each, with both squads looking to move up in the standings and position themselves for the playoffs. In the AHA postseason the top four teams earn a bye and the next four host first round games.

The games on Friday and Saturday begin at 7:05 p.m. with live video and audio links at UConnhuskies.com and the game broadcast on WHUS and streaming at WHUS.org.

Senior co-captain Sean Ambrosi ’13 (BUS) continues to lead the Huskies in scoring with 20 points on 6 goals and 14 assists, followed by Jordan Sims ’14 (BUS), who has 15 points on 6 goals, 9 assists, and Brant Harris ’14 (CLAS), with 14 points on 7 goals and 7 assists.

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 Combining to lead the Huskies in scoring and rebounding, Stefanie Dolson ’14 (CLAS), averaging 13.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis ’15 (CLAS), with 5.6 rebounds  and 16.9 points, often from three-point range,  are making life for opposing teams very difficult.

“Stefanie and Kaleena are in a really good place right now; a really good rhythm,” said head coach Geno Auriemma. “They’re just really confident right now.  Anybody that can make shots can carry us.  Stefanie feels really comfortable [at the top of the key].  I don’t know that you could do a lot to not have her get that shot, because of what else is going on around her.  What Kaleena does, that’s what she does all the time.  Ideally, you want three scorers every night.  That’s not going to happen all the time, but if you know you’re going to have two definite, you find another one somewhere.”

The No. 3 Huskies (19-1, 6-1 Big East) travel to Queens, N.Y. on Saturday to face St. John’s (10-9, 6-3) at 2 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on SNY and the UConn IMG Radio Network  (WTIC 1080).

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The Husky track and field teams continue the indoor season this weekend. On Saturday in State College, Pa., the men’s team competes in the Sykes-Sabock  Challenge, and the No. 25 women’s team is in New York on Friday and Saturday for the Armory Collegiate.