Men’s Hockey: Huskies look to rebound in Hartford against Brown

UConn men's ice hockey forward Tage Thompson handles the puck during the Huskies' game against Sacred Heart at XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn men’s hockey team (8-15-3, 4-8-3 Hockey East) will meet Brown University in another non-conference tilt at the XL Center on Tuesday night. UConn has compiled a 3-8-1 record at home this season, including a 1-3-0 record outside of conference play.

The Huskies’ last time out was Tuesday, Jan. 26, when they suffered a disappointing 7-4 defeat to local rival Sacred Heart, in Hartford. The Pioneers scored two goals within the first 30 seconds of the game, and continued to ride their offense to a high-scoring win.

UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh was disappointed with the result against Sacred Heart, especially after earning a road tie with No. 4 Boston College just three days earlier.

“It’s on me,” Cavanaugh said after last Tuesday’s loss. “It’s on me to get the guys to play consistent hockey. We played well enough Saturday to win a hockey game against the No. 4 team in the country, and tonight we didn’t play well enough to beat anybody. I don’t want to take anything away from Sacred Heart and (coach C.J. Marottolo) because they did a great job, and they deserved to win the game.”

It was another inconsistent performance from the Huskies, who have had their share of disappointing losses in Hartford this season. One example is a 2-0 loss to Army on Nov. 10, which was the Black Knights’ first win of the year after an 0-6-0 start. That night, UConn was outworked, and the loss to Sacred Heart was a similar story.

Cavanaugh, again, was quick to shoulder the blame.

“We might not have the skill and the talent to match other teams, but we certainly should have the inner drive to win those puck battles. That’s on me to get those guys to do that,” Cavanaugh said.

The Huskies will continue to be without their starting goaltender going forward, as Rob Nichols recovers from a high ankle sprain suffered in mid-January.

“I don’t know how long Rob Nichols will be out with the high ankle sprain,” Cavanaugh said. “Those can be tricky.”

Backup goaltender Tanner Creel has started in place of Nichols for UConn’s last three games, making 83 saves and allowing 14 goals. Creel will likely start again on Tuesday night.

Brown will come to the XL Center on a six-game winless streak. The Bears are 4-13-4 this season, including a 1-6-1 record away from home.

The Huskies have the potential to explode offensively on Tuesday night. Brown hasn’t held an opponent below two goals since Nov. 27, and their opponents have reached the five-goal mark on seven different occasions. UConn freshman Maxim Letunov, who leads the team with 13 goals and 16 assists, could have another huge night.

Senior Nick Lappin leads the Bears’ offense 12 goals and 15 assists. Freshman Tommy Marchin is another formidable offensive threat, with 11 goals and 10 assists. Max Gottlieb and Mark Naclerio have 14 assists and 11 assists, respectively.

In net for Brown will likely be goaltender Tim Ernst, who has a 3.14 goals against average and a .895 save percentage this season.

The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford.


Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu.