The UConn men’s hockey team, which is in a bit of a slump at the moment, is receiving no assistance from its schedule. This weekend, the Huskies play a two-game set with No. 12 UMass Lowell, consisting of a Friday night game at the XL Center in Hartford followed by a game Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.
While the Huskies (2-5-1, 0-3-0 Hockey East) are trying to break out of their current three-game skid, the River Hawks (7-2-3, 4-0-2 Hockey East) are looking to stay hot. UMass Lowell hasn’t lost a game in nearly a month, going 4-0-3 in their last seven contests. They have also yet to lose in conference play.
Last weekend, the River Hawks picked up three points with a win and a tie versus Maine, another team receiving votes in the rankings. They now have 10 points in Hockey East play, putting them in first place.
For the Huskies, it’s been quite a different story. They have won just one conference game in four tries, including two blowout losses to Boston College last weekend. The 11-1 goal differential UConn suffered last weekend was the worst in a two-game span since the 2014-15 season.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh said that generating more offense would be the focal point of practice this week. They will need to do so, as they are averaging just 2.3 goals and 25 shots per game, compared to the 3.5 goals and 34.1 shots their opponents are averaging.
The River Hawks average over five more shots per game than the Huskies, but they still only score 2.7 goals per game. The difference is the goaltending. UMass Lowell features one of the best goalies in the nation, Tyler Wall. Wall boasts a .949 save percentage and allows just 1.59 goals per game, which rank third and fourth in the country, respectively.
On the other side, Tomas Vomacka has not been able to match the success of his freshman campaign. He is allowing 3.5 goals per game with a save percentage under .900 at .897. The team hasn’t helped him out either by turning the puck over and repeatedly giving odd-man rushes to the opposing team.
The Huskies will have to avoid giving those kinds of opportunities to a potent Lowell offense that has three players with double-digit points already. Matt Brown leads the team with 15 points on four goals and 11 assists, Carl Berglund is the leading scorer with six goals and six assists and Kenny Hausinger rounds out the top three with a 10-point campaign so far on four goals and six assists.
Brown and Berglund are both freshmen while Hausinger is a senior. Brown ranks third in the country in assists and total points.
Meanwhile, the leader for UConn, Jachym Kondelik, has just six points with four goals and two assists. Vladislav Firstov and Ruslan Iskhakov are both right behind him with five (two goals, three assists).
UConn is 5-6-1 all time against the River Hawks but has dropped the last four games dating back to 2016. The Huskies will be looking to even the series Friday while also picking up their first win at home this season.