This weekend, the UConn women’s hockey team will partake in a home-ice playoff series for the first time in years.
The Huskies (15-14-5, 11-10-3 Hockey East) will take on the New Hampshire Wildcats (11-22-1, 8-16-0 Hockey East) in a best-of-three series at the Freitas Ice Forum in hopes of winning the quarterfinal round and moving forward to a likely meeting with undefeated Boston College in the semifinals.
This series will be the fourth, fifth and potentially sixth meeting between the Huskies and Wildcats this season. The puck drops on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the case of a tie. Each of the previous matchups was close, with final scores of 2-1 in each game.
New Hampshire took the first two games, but was outdone by UConn in overtime in the third meeting, which took place just last weekend.
The thrilling overtime win was lifted by the play of sophomore Theresa Knutson, who scored a game-tying goal in the third period and later scored the winning goal in overtime. Despite losing two of three games to the Wildcats, the most recent win is sure to be a huge confidence boost for the team as it heads into the playoffs.
Despite the big win last week, UConn head coach Chris MacKenzie is keeping the Huskies focused on the big picture.
“Anytime you can win a tight game in the last few minutes or overtime, it definitely gives your team a boost of confidence. However, what happened last weekend is in the past. Our next game is our focus now,” MacKenzie said. “UNH works hard, plays physical and will throw a ton of pucks at the net. They are well coached and play consistent.”
In order to win this weekend series, UConn will have to minimize and counter those strengths, which have really showed in the last three meetings. UNH has 80 shots on goal thus far against the Huskies, not including shots just wide or blocked before reaching the net.
A lot of shots, whether on target or not, could pose a threat for the Huskies’ outstanding senior goaltender, Elaine Chuli. She will have to be at her best this series if the team wants to move on.
“It will come down to details and execution,” MacKenzie said. “We need to play our way and perform at our best to be successful.”
Chris Hanna is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.