Emerging From Quarantine, UNH Hockey Excited To Start Season
The University of New Hampshire men's hockey team is chomping at the bit to start its season after multiple COVID-19 infections within the program caused the postponement of the Wildcats' first two series.
The Wildcats are set to open their 2020-21 schedule on Friday against the University of Maine, which would have been the program's third series had the coronavirus pandemic not shut them down for more than two weeks.
After a player was confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 prior to a game that was eventually postponed against Boston College on November 20, Wildcats head coach confirmed multiple players came down with the virus and several others were put into quarantine.
"We knew there would be bumps in the road," Souza said in a video conference Tuesday. "But I think our guys handled it well. It's obviously frustrating because we've got young men ready to play hockey. We're just trying to take it day by day."
Souza would not disclose the exact number of players who tested positive, but confirmed there were "a couple of cases" of COVID-19 within the team.
Still, despite there being no current positive cases within the team, UNH still does not have its full team participating in practices. Instead, players are being phased in each day. Souza said the team held its fourth practice post-quarantine on Tuesday.
Ready or not, the Wildcats will face the Black Bears, who are also kicking off their campaign. Friday's game will be broadcast on NESN+ at 7 p.m. and the teams will play again Saturday at 7 p.m. also on NESN+.
"Our guys are sick of practicing," Souza said. "It's a good learning experience where something is taken away from you. There's a newfound energy that has come out of this pause. Not that we wanted to find our energy that way, but our guys have displayed more talk and more energy. They are excited to play Maine.
"This is such a unique year. Everyone is facing similar changes and we're all going through a lot of the same things. That uncertainly of what tomorrow is going to bring is really a calling of which teams are mentally strong. The mental toughness is challenged."
UNH Men's Basketball Game Postponed
The University of New Hampshire men's basketball team will not play its upcoming games against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, according to the America East conference.
The games, which were scheduled to be played December 11 and 12, will now be played on December 22 and 23, the conference said. The games were scheduled to be played at NJIT.
It is unclear exactly why the games were canceled other than the conference saying the teams needed more time "to complete COVID-19 protocol." The games were scheduled to be played at NJIT.