After a seven-game road trip spanning over two weeks, the UConn men’s hockey team is finally home. The Huskies take on the University of Vermont on Friday at the XL Center, their first home game since a 3-3 tie against Merrimack on Dec. 11.
The Huskies (8-13-2, 4-7-2 HEA) finished the road trip with a 3-3-1 record, including a third-place finish in the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic. The Huskies completed the road trip with a two-game series against Maine, winning the first contest 1-0 behind a 44-save shutout from junior goaltender Rob Nichols.
Vermont (9-14-2, 3-7-2 HEA) sits tied for eighth in Hockey East with eight points from 12 games. The Catamounts have dropped two straight, getting swept last weekend in a two-game series by Providence.
UConn sits two places higher, in sixth place with 10 points from 13 games. The Huskies are undefeated in their last five conference games. They swept UMass-Lowell in a weekend series, tied Merrimack to close out 2015, and beat and tied Maine last weekend.
Vermont has already defeated UConn once this season. The teams first met on Nov. 13 in Burlington, where the Catamounts prevailed 2-1. Tage Thompson continued his impressive performance on the power play with the tying goal in the second period, but that was all the Huskies could muster as UVM grabbed the winning goal halfway through the third.
UConn’s power play has been one of its strengths this season. The Huskies rank seventh in the conference and 23rd nationally. The Huskies are 18-of-95 (18.9 percent) this season with the man advantage, led by freshman Tage Thompson, who has nine power play goals.
Thompson has 18 points on the season, second on the team to fellow freshman Max Letunov, who has 25. Letunov ranks sixth in the conference in points, and is second in the conference among the freshmen.
Letunov and Thompson have both been hot recently. Letunov has recorded a point in 11 of the Huskies’ last 12 games, while Thompson has tallied points in 9 of the last 13 games.
However, the Catamounts don’t lack for talent either. Junior Mario Puskarich leads the team with 20 points, 14 of them assists. Sophomore Jarrid Privitera leads Vermont with 10 goals. The Cats also have a talented freshman goalie: Packy Munson currently ranks fourth in the conference with a 2.12 goals against average, and fifth in the conference with a .926 save percentage.
The puck is set to drop at 8:30 at the XL Center, and the game will be televised on NESN and SNY.
Peter Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men’s hockey. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.