The UConn Men’s Hockey team (2-1-3) is travelling to South Bend to take on No. 6/7 Notre Dame (3-2-1) this weekend for their first Hockey East action of the year.
Thursday and Friday’s games will be the last regular season meetings between the Huskies and the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame will be departing Hockey East next season for the Big Ten conference. Last season, the Fighting Irish swept UConn in the two games they played by scores of 2-1 and 8-2.
For the third straight week, the Huskies received votes in the USCHO.com Top-20 coaches’ poll, but also received voters in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top-15 poll for the first time all season.
UConn received votes despite a disappointing 2-2 tie to AIC; the Huskies went 1 for 11 on the power play, including a 0-5 performance in the third period. Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh was weary of that sort of performance going into a game against a team like Notre Dame.
“The power play is a funny thing, it’s streaky, the next thing you know we’ll go three for five in the next game,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s certainly something that Max [Letunov] coming back will help. But even when we had him, we’ve been faltering. We need to work on that this week, Notre Dame is an excellent penalty-killing team.”
One of the most successful lines of the season so far for the Huskies, sophomore Karl El-Mir, senior Evan Richardson and sophomore Max Kalter, will need to continue their early success if the Huskies want road victories.
“I thought we had a really good game [Friday],” El-Mir said. “I think we could be even better down in the corners, have some more running time down there. It’s easy to play with a guy like [Richardson] who moves the puck and skates like he does.”
Notre Dame’s junior forward Anders Bjork currently leads the Hockey East in scoring with 11 points, totaled from his five goals and six assists. Sophomore Andrew Oglevie leads the conference in power play scoring with eight points.
UConn won’t be able to afford any mistakes against the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is second in the league in terms of penalty kill (.917) and power play (.926).