The 2012–13 men’s hockey team, a young and inex­pe­ri­enced group that won just nine games, had a habit of fading in the final 40 min­utes. In 34 games last season, the Huskies were outscored by 37 goals, 36 of which came in the second and third periods alone.

Head coach Jim Madigan attrib­uted the lack of finish to a dearth of depth, a defi­ciency that fre­quently led to late-​​game fatigue. “Our players were in good con­di­tion,” he explained in a pre­season inter­view, “but we were relying on the same small group because we didn’t have the depth to spread the min­utes around.”

This season fig­ures to be dif­ferent, starting with Friday’s opener at Matthews Arena against Alabama-​​Huntsville. When the puck drops at 7 p.m., fans of the red and black will be for­mally intro­duced to 11 new players, the fruits of a recruiting effort to infuse the roster with a unique com­bi­na­tion of offen­sive pluck and defen­sive grit.

I think we’re going to be a really deep team with a lot of skill as well as a lot of char­acter,” said cap­tain Josh Manson, a third-​​year defenseman who logged 15 min­utes of ice time per game last season. “I’m hoping we’ll be dif­fi­cult to play against.”

The offen­sive pro­duc­tion should improve from last season, in which the Huskies scored just 2.4 goals per game. Three of last season’s top four scorers will return to the lineup, including sopho­more for­ward Kevin Roy, who led the team in goals (17) and points (34) despite missing seven games because of an injury.

Kevin has as much skill as any player in col­lege hockey,” Madigan said. “He has unbe­liev­able instincts and a goal scorer’s touch.”

The same could be said of Roy’s new team­mate Mize Szmatula, who tal­lied 76 points in 64 games while playing in the United States Hockey League last season. “Szmatula’s always in a posi­tion to go on the attack,” Madigan said of his new star for­ward. “He sees the ice well and has an accu­rate shot.”

Team defense will play an equally promi­nent role in deter­mining the squad’s suc­cess. Last season, the Huskies allowed 3.5 goals per game, which ranked last in Hockey East. This season, Madigan has recruited three new blue­liners to shore up the back end, including Boston Bruins draft pick Matt Ben­ning, whom he char­ac­ter­ized as a “smart, cere­bral puck-​​moving defenseman who brings pas­sion and grit­ti­ness to the ice.”

Our pri­ority is to improve team defense,” he added. “An early indi­ca­tion of our suc­cess will be whether we are elim­i­nating shots on goal and keeping our goals against under three.”

When Madigan dis­cussed the team in mid-​​September, he did not reveal Friday’s starting goal­tender. Last year’s starting goalie Chris Rawl­ings grad­u­ated in the spring, leaving Clay Witt, Bryan Moun­tain, and red­shirt freshman Derick Roy as his pos­sible replacements.

It’s an open com­pe­ti­tion,” Madigan said.