The UConn men’s hockey team is set to face off against No. 19 Boston College this weekend, their first match being played in Massachusetts Friday before UConn hosts the Eagles at the XL Center Saturday. The Huskies dropped all three matchups against BC last season and are hopeful to right that ship as the team gets deeper into conference play.
UConn (2-3-1, 1-1-0 Hockey East) has been very hit-or-miss to start the season, having split their last two series against RPI and Merrimack. The team has gone through spells where the offense has looked like one of the best, but more often have looked like the young, inexperienced team that they are.
The Huskies are currently led by sophomore Jachym Kondelik, who has racked up four goals (already matching his mark from all last season) and two assists for a team-best of six points. Closely behind Kondelik are sophomores Ruslan Iskhakov and Kale Howarth, who each have two goals and two assists on the year, and freshman Vladislov Firstov, who has scored once and assisted on three goals.
The youth has shown at times, particularly on both sides of the power play, as they rank second worst in the conference in power play goal percentage (5.9%) and penalty kill percentage (77.3%). Luckily for the Huskies, BC does not fare much better, ranking seventh and dead last in those same categories, respectively. While the Eagles had been a powerhouse in the Hockey East, the team has slowed over the past two seasons, opening the window for UConn’s young core to continue to develop in what should be a tightly contested match.
For BC (3-4-0, 1-2-0 Hockey East), they have gotten off to a surprisingly slow start to the season after being selected to win the conference in the preseason coaches’ poll. Since opening the season with convincing wins over No. 12 Wisconsin and Colgate, the Eagles have lost four of their last five. Unlike the Huskies, Boston College boasts one of the more experienced teams in the conference, with almost half of their team made up of seniors compared to only two on UConn’s team, so their struggles come as a much greater surprise.
The team is led by senior duo Cotton David and Julius Mattila, each tallying three goals and seven assists for an impressive 10 points through their first seven games. Junior Logan Hutsko sits in fourth on the team in points but has not played since their third game after suffering a leg injury, his absence no doubt playing a part in the team’s recent struggles. BC’s biggest issue, however, has been penalties, as they currently lead the conference in penalty minutes with over 18 a game. If that pattern continues in their matchups against UConn, the Huskies will have a real chance at scoring their fair share of goals while also hopefully solving their own powerplay issues.
The first matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday before both teams head to the XL Center for their second meeting Saturday, with puck set to drop at 3:30 p.m. Both games will be called on 97.9 ESPN radio.