Coming out of a two-week long break, the UConn men’s hockey team starts conference play this weekend before heading into a month full of action.
First UConn (1-2-1) is facing off with Merrimack this weekend, who they beat 5-0 last year at XL and lost 5-2 away in Andover, Massachusetts. They kick off the series with an away game in Andover Friday before coming back to the XL Center in Hartford Sunday.
Merrimack (1-5, 0-1 Hockey East) has yet to play particularly well this season, losing to everyone they have faced aside from a 3-1 win over Holy Cross, who finished No. 56 out of 60 in RPI’s poll last season.
Merrimack has allowed 29 goals so far this season, but many of them came in an 11-5 loss to No. 15 Wisconsin. Throughout the season they have given up 4.8 goals per game.
They have suffered goals on 23% of power play opportunities, which is notable because they have given up 31 power play opportunities so far this season and they have given up six goals. They do not have a single player with a positive plus/minus this year
UConn’s power plays have been less than stellar so far, as they have yet to score in 10 opportunities and they have given up three goals in 17.
They have three freshman goalies, who have all struggled this season, sharing the minutes in net. Which has not been kind to Merrimack.
On offense they have been okay, scoring 2.5 goals per game on nearly 26 shots per game.
UConn has to look out for a few players on Merrimack, but in general they spread around the scoring as no player has more than two goals so far.
Merrimack is led in points by Declan Carlile, who has a goal and four assists, and Zach Uens, who has a pair of goals and assists this year.
Merrimack is coming off of a 3-2 OT loss to New Hampshire, in which they lost just 27 seconds into overtime on a Charlie Kelleher goal for the Wildcats.
UConn is wellrested, and they have had the time in practice to get their chemistry working, which has been their biggest concern to this point. They have struggled to string passes together in transition, just missing sticks on forward surges at times.
UConn has a very good opportunity to get conference play off rolling versus Merrimack. However, if they struggle this weekend, it could be very telling of their young roster’s chances for the rest of the season.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @mmavredakis.