Scherer Key In The Huskies' Turnaround (By Jim Merritt The Daily Campus)
Scherer Key In The Huskies' TurnaroundBy Jim Merritt The Daily Campus
Storrs, CT -- When the buzzer rang on March 16, the 2006-2007 season of UConn hockey came to a heartbreaking end as the Huskies lost, 3-1, to Army in the Atlantic Hockey tournament semifinals.
For senior captain Matt Scherer, it was the heartbreaking end to a four-year chapter of his life - one that, when it finished, left even the strongest of leaders emotional.
"Even after a little over a month from when we last played [in the semifinals] it still really hasn't sunk in that that could be your last time that, you know, you're ever going to really play hockey for serious competition," Scherer said. "Obviously, I got a little choked up about it. It was just rough."
Who wouldn't get choked up after being the leader of a Huskies squad that climbed a long way from the 11-23-2 record a season ago to grab home-ice in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey tournament for the first time in team history?
Scherer had nothing but praise for the season and the team he was leaving behind.
"I really felt that we had given ourselves a chance [to win a conference title]," Scherer said. "You know, I came into it with a lot of positive thoughts and I was really happy with the way we performed this year."
Performance-wise, Scherer had his best year at UConn, leading the Huskies in goals (22), points (36), shots (146) and power-play goals, en route to an All-Atlantic Hockey Second Team selection, where his 22 goals were good for second in the conference and 10th in the nation.
Not bad for a West Coast guy from Seattle, Wash., who came 3,000 miles to play for the Huskies.
For some, the trip to Storrs from Seattle is a daunting task. But for Scherer, the decision to come to UConn was an easy one.
Scherer said the geography of the Northeast wasn't an issue. Even after a blizzard hit the Storrs campus leaving him snowed-in for a few days during his visit, the people he met and the campus he fell in love with sealed the deal.
"It was an awesome campus and the people around here seemed terrific," Scherer said. "I've really enjoyed my stay here and really enjoyed the people I've met and the friends I've made."
Scherer's junior hockey career put him in Nebraska with the US Hockey League's Tri-City Storm. But the transition to the college game was something he had to get ready for - quickly.
Scherer said the two playing styles differ in their speed, since the college game is faster, but playing with other highly skilled individuals left him well prepared when he entered the Huskies lineup.
His freshman season confirmed it.
In his first season on UConn's roster, he finished second on the team with 12 goals, in addition to 17 assists, leading to an Atlantic Hockey All-Rookie Team selection.
His freshman year was the only season in which he didn't lead the Huskies in goals.
With all of Scherer's success, it's hard to believe that he was once a relatively unknown freshman among his teammates and coaching staff.
"I didn't have any idea what was expected of me," Scherer said. "I knew we had a lot of new guys coming in and that I was going to have to work for everything and earn anything that I was going to get."
Scherer said that some of the other players he was battling for spots in the lineup were much better known than he was and he needed to stay in his best shape to make it an "easier ride."
The low expectations were met with early success for Scherer, leading to a confidence boost.
"That kind of confidence can really start a pretty successful career here just from, you know, getting going right out of the gate," Scherer said.
So what's next for the former two-year captain who sits 22nd on the Huskies' career points list?
It doesn't involve a plane ride back to Seattle, Scherer said, but only a short drive north to Boston, where he has an internship lined up with former UConn assistant coach Peter Belisle and the UMass Boston men's hockey team.
Although his aspirations now are to land a coaching job in the near future, he hasn't yet seen the end of his playing days - at least he hopes.
"You know, take a year and see if I'm cut out for the life of the pros," Scherer said. "And if things go well, keep doing it."
If Scherer's dream is to coach, his true goal is to come back to the school that gave him so much and give a little back as an assistant to head coach Bruce Marshall.
For now, all Scherer has is memories of his stellar career at UConn, but he has some advice for the next captain that steps into the Huskies locker room.
"It's not a 9-to-5 job," he said. "You don't get top pick and choose when you want to be captain. You got to know when to give a pat on the back and when to give a kick in the toosh."