The UConn women’s hockey team hasn’t exactly fared well against the top teams in Hockey East, but they will have a chance to change that this weekend when they play Northeastern and Providence, who are ranked first and fourth in the conference, respectively.
First, the Northeastern Huskies (19-3-3, 17-2-2 Hockey East) will come to Storrs on Friday night for a game at 6 p.m. Then, UConn will travel to Providence to take on the Friars (17-9, 11-8 Hockey East) at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
UConn has played two games against each team so far this season, but is just 1-3 in those games. The only game the Huskies won was against Providence by a score of 2-1 back on Dec. 1. UConn has been outscored 14-6 against Northeastern and Providence this season.
Head coach Chris MacKenzie wants to see his team convert their scoring chances and finish the periods strong, which he said was a problem the last time they faced Northeastern.
“(We need to) focus on transition defense, cashing in on our opportunities offensively and, really specifically with Northeastern, playing a full 20 minutes,” MacKenzie said. “They’ve scored nine goals against us and I want to say four or five of them were in the last two minutes of the period. So, if we really just finish a period well, take some momentum or not give them any going into the period, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
UConn is coming off a mediocre series against Maine, where they were blown out 5-1 in one game and had to settle for a scoreless tie in the other. Their opponents, however, are on polar opposite streaks heading into the weekend.
Northeastern is red hot. It’s riding a four-game winning streak and has won six of its last seven. Providence, on the other hand, is ice cold, having lost five of its last six games, including the last three. Northeastern seems unstoppable right now while Providence is quite vulnerable.
UConn will be facing a pair of players who are top 10 in the country in points: Maureen Murphy on Providence who ranks sixth with 36 points and Alina Mueller on Northeastern who ranks ninth with 35 points.
Murphy gets most of her points via goals, in which she ranks fourth in the country with 20, while Mueller gets more of hers by assists, in which she ranks eighth in the country with 21. Both players average over 1.3 points per game, which is among the best in the country as well. These are two of the premiere players in the country.
UConn doesn’t have any players quite at that caliber, rather it depends on contributions from its entire team as well as great defense and goaltending.
While a sweep this weekend seems unlikely, a split is very much in reach and would still be great for this UConn team that is fighting for a better position in the Hockey East tournament.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .