This weekend, the UConn women’s hockey team took on the No. 3 team in the country, the Northeastern Huskies (17-3-3, 15-2-2 Hockey East), in a home-and-home series. They dropped both games by scores of 5-2 and 4-1, moving their season record to 13-11-1 and 8-9-1 in Hockey East.
While UConn has had a pretty successful season so far, their biggest problems have come against the top teams in Hockey East. Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University occupy the top three spots in the Hockey East standings right now. Against those three teams, UConn is 0-6-1 this season.
Obviously, teams of that caliber are in that position for a reason and are tough to beat, but it’s beating those types of teams that separate the good teams from the real contenders.
UConn has played like a completely different team when they are up against the best teams in the conference. In the seven games they’ve played against Northeastern, BC and BU this season they are averaging only 0.7 goals per game, but they average 3.4 goals per game against all other teams.
Likewise, they have allowed only 2.1 goals per game to all its other opponents this year, but when they play against those three teams they give up 3.4 goals per game.
Other than the one tie against BU early in the season, the Huskies have lost every game against the top three teams in the conference, and all of the losses have been by at least a three-goal margin. They simply haven’t gotten it done against the teams they will have to face in the playoff tournament.
This is not to say that UConn hasn’t played hard and competed in these games. Most of the games were really close at one time but got away late. This weekend, UConn hung tough with Northeastern, even leading 2-1 at the end of the first period of the first game. Unfortunately though, teams don’t get points for hanging tough, only for wins and ties.
Coach Chris MacKenzie knows that his team needs to up its game against the harder competition.
“We can hang with the best team in the conference, now we have to focus on finding ways to come out on top,” he said. “We need to focus on continuing to improve every day and prepare to play our very best come playoff time.”
The Huskies already played BC three times this season, and they failed to record a goal in any of those games. They still have one game left against both Northeastern and BU, where they will have a chance to finally break through with a win against one of the top Hockey East teams, something they haven’t done since last season.
UConn is currently in sixth place in the Hockey East standings, and if they are going to make a run in the Hockey East tournament like last year, they will have to figure out how to beat those top teams.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.