After splitting the first two games of the season, 1-1 UConn Men’s Hockey will round out their four-game season opening road trip this weekend. They will have their first crack at a top-ranked team when they face Providence on Friday night before heading to RPI on Saturday.
The Huskies are a fresh off a 4-2 loss to interstate rival Quinnipiac on Tuesday night. Freshmen Carter Turnbull and Jonny Evans scored their first collegiate goals but it was a slow night for the Huskies’ offense as the Bobcats held UConn to just 13 shots on goal. Junior goaltender Adam Huska made 24 saves in the losing effort.
Providence has expectedly had a strong start to their season. They have won two out of their first three games with their lone loss coming to No.2 ranked Notre Dame. Senior goaltender Hayden Hawkey is back between the pipes after finishing second in Hockey East last season in goals against. In five games against the Huskies, Hawkey has a 4-1 record and has stopped 102-of-109 shots. If the early season results have been any indication, Providence is going to tout another stingy defense this season. Their 1.33 goals against average is the ninth best in the nation.
The two split their season series last year. Providence came out on top 3-1 at the first meeting at the XL Center but it was also the first start in net by goaltender Tanner Creel in two years after Huska suffered an injury. When the series shifted to Providence, the ice also tipped in the Huskies’ favor. The Huskies scored two power play goals and Creel made 26 saves in a 3-1 victory that started a seven-game winning streak.
Saturday’s trip to RPI will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2014. RPI is still searching for their first win of the season after dropping both games of a home and home series against UMass. They were pegged to finish 10th in the Eastern College Athletic Conference by the preseason coaches poll. The Engineers have several new tools to work with after welcoming 10 freshmen and three transfers in the offseason.
If UConn wants to end their road trip on a high note, they will need to find consistency in their offensive game. Instead of a performance like at Quinnipiac, the Huskies’ would obviously much prefer an explosive performance like their 5-goal, 31-shot outing in their season opener against Army.
The Huskies and Providence Friars will drop the puck at 7:00 p.m. Friday at Schneider Arena. It will be a quick jaunt out of the Ocean State and back through Connecticut to take on RPI in Troy, New York at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com .