The UConn men’s hockey team is headed to New York to face off against the Rochester Polytechnic Institute Engineers in a rematch from last weekend’s contest. In their first meeting the Engineers came out on top, beating the Huskies 5-3 at the XL Center. Coming off a third period where they completely controlled the game, head coach Mike Cavanaugh said it should be UConn who has momentum heading into this one.
“If we keep putting performances like we did in that third period, it’ll start going our way,” Cavanaugh said.
For the Huskies (0-2-1), they have put together several strong periods en route to some very close games, but that first win of the season still eludes them. The team has been led by their underclassmen thus far, in particular the play of sophomore Jachym Kondelik and freshman Vladislav Firstov.
Kondelik, who racked up a team-high 22 assists in his freshman year, leads the team after three games with two goals while also adding an assist. He’s been a consistent force for the offense, and as this young team gets more experience, Kondelik’s play should also continue to improve.
Firstov also has three points on the season, tallying a goal and two assists in his first season with the Huskies. In the first matchup against RPI, the duo was responsible for two of the Huskies’ three goals and will look to add to their totals in the second meeting.
The Engineers (1-1-0) were led by their wingers, sophomore Nick Bowman and senior Chase Zieky, last time out. Bowman dished out a career-high three assists against the Huskies while Zieky scored two goals and added an assist of his own. All of Bowman’s assists as well as one of Zieky’s goals came in the second period, adding to what has been a concerning pattern for UConn to start the season. The Huskies have given up six goals in the second period alone, putting them at second worst in Hockey East ahead of only Merrimack to start the season.
Conversely, the Huskies have racked up an incredible 58 shots in the third period in their last two games, led by Alexander Payusov and Kale Howarth, who have racked up 11 and 10 shots respectively on the season. While they were playing from behind in both games, it is good to see that the offense can turn it on when they need to.
If they want to turn the season around against RPI, the team will have to carry the momentum they create for themselves in the third period throughout the game and start converting on their opportunities.
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. for the Huskies’ last non-conference matchup before Big East hockey begins, with the game being called on 100.9 FM radio.
Conner Gilson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @connergilson03.