Sticks clash and boom, the puck is back on the ice. Face-offs happen in an instant and are often overlooked as an essential part of the game of hockey.
“We work together as a unit to win the puck, we practice it and our players take pride in it and it is a good sign for us to continue to do that,” head coach Chris Mackenzie said on UConn’s face-off success rate.
The UConn women’s hockey team wins 56 percent of its face-offs, which is better than conference powerhouses No. 3 Northeastern, No. 7 Boston College, and No. 8 Boston University.
UConn won more face-off than its opponent in 23 of its 30 games this season. Face-off wins give a team possession of the puck and can provide an open lane to the goal if won in the offensive zone.
UConn players Briana Colangelo, Natalie Snodgrass and Savannah Bouzide all boast high faceoff win percentages. Colangelo receives a bulk of the face-off duties, with Snodgrass a close second. The junior forward Colangelo wins slightly more than 60 percent of her chances.
“It definitely helps the team when we get the puck, so always focus on that every game and practice it a lot too,” Colangelo said on her face-off efforts.
Across 77 face-offs, Savannah Bouzide has won 52 of those opportunities, or 68 percent. Even though this is a limited sample, it signifies she has real potential for success as a third option.
Snodgrass has the lowest percentage of the three at 58 percent, but she has a tool that the other two have not shown: A move on face-offs where she pushes the puck between her opponent’s legs and bursts forward for an attempt on goal. The team-leader in points has flashed this on a few occasions this year but has yet to be successful.
“She’s really developed her face-off game. She’s so strong that she can pull it back and win a lot of draws,” Mackenzie said on Snodgrass’ face-off abilities. “She likes to go forward, and I like that play because even if it does not go where she wants it to, she is probably going to get the puck and now we have possession. Eventually, in a critical moment we hope she will connect on that and it will be good.”
The Huskies win face-offs at a great clip but need to convert on the possession they gain as a result. UConn has been up and down, going on a six-game win streak before going winless in its next six before this weekend’s series.
This UConn team has the ability to use its face-off prowess to get more scoring opportunities for this struggling offense, but it will remain to be seen if that come to fruition.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.