The Huskies have started the back half of their season in disastrous fashion. Friday’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Merrimack was UConn’s fourth straight loss and their third shutout in that span. UConn has a chance to right the ship this Thursday with a home and home series this against No. 10 Providence. The Friars will come to Hartford on Thursday before UConn returns the favor and heads to Schneider Arena on Saturday.
The Huskies will be looking to snap more than one losing streak on Thursday. UConn has yet to beat Providence since joining Hockey East, dropping their last five matchups with the Friars.
Since the second half of the season started, Providence has done nothing but cement their status as a championship-caliber team. The Friars hoisted the Three Rivers Classic Trophy in Pittsburgh to end 2017 and started the New Year by topping Brown, Merrimack and No. 16 Boston College.
Junior forward Erik Foley is the team’s most explosive offensive weapon, as he is tied for 12th in the nation in points per game. Foley has produced 13 goals and 15 assists for the Friars in just 22 games.
If UConn is going to upset Providence in one of these two games, they’ll have to find a way to beat one of the nation’s best collections of defensemen. Providence’s blue-liners are a huge reason for Providence’s elite defense—the Friars are holding opponents to 2.21 goals per game, sixth best in Division I.
Providence can also produce offense from the blue line as well. Sophomore Jacob Bryson has an uncanny passing ability for a defenseman, assisting on 16 of the Friars goals for a total of 17 points this season. Factor in a more-than capable goaltender in Hayden Hawkey, and Providence has the look of a championship team top to bottom.
One of the keys to UConn’s success will be producing offense whatever way they can. UConn has one of the best power plays in Hockey East, converting at a .204 percent clip. After only producing 16 shots on goal last time out against Merrimack, the Huskies should look to collect as many power play opportunities as possible.
Thursday’s game will be broadcast throughout Connecticut on WCTX MyTV9. The Huskies and Friars will renew their Hockey East rivalry for the first time this season at 7:05 p.m. at the XL Center.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.