Men's Hockey: UConn ready for doubleheader against UMass

UConn goalie Rob Nichols makes a save during the Huskies 5-2 win over Boston University on October 27, 2015. Nichols has made 151 saves this season. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

UConn men’s ice hockey will try to bounce back from a disastrous weekend with a positive one as the Huskies face the UMass Minutemen in a home-and-home doubleheader that begins Friday.

UConn was outscored 10-3 over their two games against Notre Dame last weekend. Eight different Notre Dame skaters scored goals during Sunday’s finale at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Huskies couldn’t seem to get anything to go their way as every mistake they made seemingly turned into a Notre Dame goal.

Senior Shawn Pauly said the best way to move forward is to focus on what went right and look at the positives.

“I know its tough to stay positive after a loss like this, but it’s early in the year,” Pauly said. “We did have some things we did well tonight. Far and few between, but we have to take into account some things we did well and build off of it and keep trying to grow as a team.”

Despite being picked to finish last in the conference by the Hockey East preseason coaches poll, UMass started the year 4-0-1.

Recently, though, the Minutemen may have come down to earth after losing their last two games.

UMass is averaging 3.86 goals per game but has a leaky defense is giving up 4.43 goals per game.

Both teams come into Friday’s matchup with red-hot freshman.

UConn freshman forward Max Letunov was recently named Hockey East Player of the Month for his 11-point October. Letunov is sixth in the country in scoring with five goals and fifth in Hockey East.

Letunov is a huge reason for the Huskies power play success, assisting on five goals with the man advantage.  

“He’s our playmaker. He’s our point guard on our power play. It runs through him,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after the team’s season opening win against Arizona State.

UMass’ Austin Plevy isn’t far behind in terms of impact, tallying four goals and four assists in the Minutemen’s eight games.  

Letunov’s teammate, Tage Thompson, also earned some hardware this week after being named Hockey East Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week. Thompson scored his first career hat trick during Tuesday’s game against Boston University.

The Huskies will look to be sharper on the power play this weekend after going 0-9 against Notre Dame.

Despite the team’s recent struggles, Cavanaugh said that he still thinks the team is capable of great things.

“I really like this team. I think we have a lot of players who are capable of winning a lot of games in Hockey East,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s incumbent on the players and myself, working together, to make sure we’re a lot more structured when we play.”

UConn will have their first chance to get back in the win column Friday at 7:05 p.m. before heading north to take on the Minutemen in Amherst, Massachusetts Saturday.


Bryan Lambert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.