Men’s Hockey: Huskies begin weekend series with No. 4/3 UMass Lowell

UConn's Corey Ronan (#11) and Karl El-Mir (#16) bring the puck in the zone against BU defender Dante Fabbro (#17) on November 18, at the XL Center. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

The men’s hockey team will travel up to Lowell, Mass, to take on the No. 4/3 UMass Lowell River Hawks before returning home on Saturday for the second leg of the home-and-home series.

UMass Lowell will be UConn’s sixth nationally ranked opponent of the season so far and their fourth opponent inside the top-five. The Huskies are 2-5-1 against ranked opponents this year.

UConn is currently riding a two-game losing streak, dropping two-straight at home last week against Boston College (5-2) and Sacred Heart (4-2). The Huskies finished the month of November with just one win for a record of 1-4-2 in the month. UConn is 4-6-5 overall.

The River Hawks have earned their top-five national ranking through their 8-4-2 record to start the season. With a 4-2 conference record the Hawks currently sit at third in the Hockey East.

Senior Joe Gambardella and junior C.J. Smith lead this River Hawk offense and are also among the league leaders in scoring. Gambardella has a team high 19 points for UMass Lowell, coming from his seven goals and 12 assists, good for sixth in the Hockey East. Smith has 13 points, but is third in the conference with an impressive nine goals.

The River Hawks are the best power play team in the league, owning a conference-best 22.7 percent conversion rate with an extra man, which is also good for ninth in the nation.

On the other hand, UConn’s power play ranks fifth best in the league at 17.8 percent, good enough for the 25th best in the nation. Sophomore Tage Thompson leads the Huskies in power play goals with four, to go along with five assists with the man-advantage.

Both teams have extremely impressive freshman goaltenders between the pipes. The Huskies have Adam Huska, who after seven starts now owns a 2.94 goals against and a .918 save percentage, ranking sixth in the league.

UMass Lowell has freshman stud Tyler Wall. Wall has a 2.09 goals against average and a .921 save percentage, ranking third and fourth, respectively, in Hockey East.

Both Huska and Wall are draft picks of the New York Rangers. Huska was a seventh round choice in the 2015 draft, while Wall was taken earlier this year in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.

The Huskies will drop the puck at the XL Center, Saturday at 3:35 p.m.


Connor Donahue is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.