Cavanaugh shares spirit with “UConn way” at Coaches Road Show
UConn ice hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh talked with the media during the Coaches Road Show in Southington, Ct., on Monday, May 23. He shared the spirit of UConn athletics at the event as he talked with the media about coaching, last season and the “UConn way.”
Cavanaugh began by talking about last season and where he and the team felt there was a “shift.” Last season, the team finished 20-16, but fell to UMass in overtime, 2-1, in the second round of the Hockey East Championship.
“I think it’s been shifting, but I think we just solidified it this year. The win was a good win, but I think the Northeastern win was even more of a statement game for us,” Cavanaugh said, talking about where he felt the season shifting and winning a game on a “big stage.”
Cavanaugh said that the right leadership and great recruiting is how the team can keep going forward, alluding to UConn basketball as a prime example of how the “expectation to win does not go away.”
Going off of this season, Cavanaugh discussed what he hopes the future of the team will look like.
“I wanna hope it’s just a continuation of the second era and that it just continues for a long time. I think it’s just incumbent on us to keep building and keep getting better,” he said.
Because the rest of the league is getting better, Cavanaugh’s primary focus is on continuing to recruit and coach well, be innovative and not be complacent. He took from recently retired college hockey coach, Jerry York, how he was always willing to adapt with the times and change when necessary.
“I don’t think human nature changes and I think people will stay the same. However you live your life, however you coach your team, however the game is played, that’s always gonna change and you have to know when to adapt,” Cavanaugh said.
Now that it’s the offseason, Cavanaugh thought it would be healthiest for the team to be at home. In July, most of the team will come back for the Summer Two module and workout and take a few classes. Because the hockey team is bringing in new faces, Cavanaugh thought it is important for the team to bond.
Discussing coaching for UConn’s ice hockey team, Cavanaugh feels at home.
“UConn gave me my first head coaching job. I felt that loyalty toward that program,” Cavanaugh said. “When you build something from scratch, and all of the sudden now you’re seeing the fruits of your labor, and you’re seeing a brand new rink being built and you’re seeing a top-notch recruiting class. My heart was here, and I didn’t want to go anywhere.”
Cavanaugh ended by discussing the “UConn way,” something that is close with the athletic community at the school. Cavanaugh personally likes that it’s not his culture, it’s UConn’s culture.
He said, “I think UConn has its own culture. I think Jim Penders has it figured out, Geno (Auriemma) obviously did, Jim Calhoun does, and you just look around. Nancy Stevens did, Ray Reed did. There’s just a UConn culture of athletic department and it was my job, my task, to make sure my team lived up to the UConn culture.
“Luckily here, I’ve been able to pick the minds of Geno and Jim and Nancy and Jim Penders and Ray since my time. Dee Rowe who knew it better than anybody. I’ve just tried to do my best to impart their wisdom on my team.
He concluded, “It’s just really transcendent, the entire campus. We created this Olympic village that’s really cool every day to show up and go to work to.”