The UConn men’s hockey team will have tough sledding ahead of them on Thursday as they get a visit from the No.13 ranked Northeastern Huskies.
The Huskies from Massachusetts sit at 16-8-1 overall and 9-6-1 in conference this season, and their 19 points are good for fourth place in the Hockey East. However, the top of the standings is very close, as only six points separate the first and sixth place teams. They have won five of their last ten games and are coming off a 2-1 overtime victory in the Beanpot against Boston University.
They are led by redshirt senior Brandon Hawkins, who leads the team with 22 points, eight goals and 14 assists. Freshman Tyler Madden and junior Jeremy Davies are right behind him, each boasting 21 points. Madden, who is the son of John Madden (the former Selke Trophy winner for the New Jersey Devils not the legendary football coach) has nine goals and 12 assists, while Davies has his 21 points on just five goals and a team-leading 16 assists.
The Connecticut Huskies have fared much worse this season, currently 7-17-2 overall and 2-12-2 in conference, good for dead last in the Hockey East and 18 points out of first place.
They are also winless over their last six games and have been outscored 25-10 despite having a combined 18 more shots on goal than their opponents.
Senior forward Karl El-Mir leads the team in points with 22, 12 goals and 10 assists. He is tied for the team lead with freshman Jáchym Kondelík, who only has three goals but racked up a team-leading 19 assists, tied for third in the Hockey East.
The Huskies are also excited by what they have seen from Freshman Ruslan Iskhakov, who is coming off a two-goal performance against Boston College. Afterwards, head coach Mike Cavanaugh had glowing remarks about him.
“I didn’t think it was going to take this long,” Cavanaugh said. “But it’s hard. You think about someone coming over from Moscow, and he’s never spent any time here in the U.S. and now he’s in a whole different culture academically. He was dynamic tonight … I thought he was the best player on the ice.”
Iskhakov is tied for fourth on the team with 11 points, and his two goals against BC broke a 10-game pointless streak and a 14-game goal-scoring drought.
UConn and Northeastern have played each other one other time this season in early November, when UConn blew a 2-1 lead and gave up the game winning goal with just over a minute remaining in the third period. This will be the last time these two schools face each other this season.
UConn has also clinched another losing season, as their last game against BC dropped them 10 games under .500 with just eight games remaining on the regular season schedule.
The game will take place Thursday night at the XL Center in Hartford, CT, with the puck drop scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.