STORRS,CT -- It is 8 a.m., about five hours prior to practice and the Huskies are coming off a tough loss to Sacred Heart University the night before. But goalie Adam Huska is already in gear working on defending creases, slides and conditioning. A seventh round draft pick of the Rangers in 2015, Huska is in his third season at the University of Connecticut.
After practicing with the entire team, Huska stays on the ice. The goalie will continue to work on defending the crease, slides, watch film and even have some fun with his teammates by taking shots on goal. His level of positivity has been a major strength to his team in a down year. Fellow goalie and teammate Tomas Vomacka said Huska is the type of player that his teammates gravitate toward due to his willingness to lend a helping hand.
Vomacka, who is a freshman goaltender from the Czech Republic and farmhand in the Nashville Predators organization, said Huska welcomed him with open arms. However, Huska didn't sugarcoat what was expected of him in college hockey by only telling him about the positives. Rather, he told Vomacka that he must learn the language, culture and what he may struggle with. Now, the teammates spend valuable time on and off the ice.
Being from Slovakia, Huska was tasked with grasping the way of life in America and the new language as he stepped foot on campus. "I struggled with the language barrier when I came. Also the culture is different, the people think differently and so on," Huska said.
"(Huska) is a great kid and a great friend," Vomacka said. "Obviously on the ice it's a little competitive, but that's how it's supposed to be and that's how it should be. There is only one net. We both want to play. But whoever plays, you just got to be supportive and that's what helps the team."
Huska has held opponents to two goals or less during seven games this season, including 39-saves against Yale (ranked 15th in the nation at the time). Coach Cavanaugh said this is his most impressive season from since arriving with the Huskies. "I think as of late, Adam has been playing some of his best hockey since he's been here at UConn," said Cavanaugh.
Since the team returned from winter break, Cavanaugh said Huska has ramped up his production in goal. The junior kicked off the second-half of the season with his best game of the year against Yale.
Huska came to UConn knowing he would face some stiff competition in an extremely talented Hockey East conference, which includes Boston College, Boston University and UMass. The Rangers farmhand started his career off with a bang when he posted a career-high 47 saves against No. 6 Notre Dame, made 40 saves against Maine at Frozen Fenway and notched his first-career shutout against No. 5 Boston University on the road.
Cavanaugh said his level of calmness is his best attribute and it has helped him succeed in high-pressure situations. Coupled with his intense passion for the game, he has become an extremely coachable player. "When someone has a work ethic like he has right now, it is very easy to coach him," Cavanaugh said. "And it's very easy to support him as a player. That professional work ethic makes him much easier to coach."
In addition to his play on the ice, Huska is focused on keeping the mood in the locker room positive as they try to finish the season on a high note and compete for a chance in the playoffs.
"Hockey is a team sport and we need everyone in the locker room," Huska said. "I am just trying to help guys because I know if someone has bad game, I am trying to help them. I know I can have a bad game too. I know that if someone helps me, it makes me play better."
Huska's ultimate goal is to become an impactful player in the NHL for the Rangers. So, he said he will continue to put in more and more time in workouts, skating, practicing and watching film to make tweaks in his game.
"My goal is to make it to the NHL one day," Huska said. "Even when we have a bad game or something, I always see my goal again and try to take it step by step every day and not waste any time by feeling bad for myself or blaming others. Just try to get better every day."