The Huskies will try to get back in the win column with matchups on Thursday and Friday against Providence.
UConn (8-7-1) has gone cold of late. The Huskies have dropped three in a row to Boston College, Yale and Minnesota Duluth. Providence (8-6-2) has been red-hot over the last five games, winning four of the five, one in which the Friars won 10-0. UConn is 13-20-5 against Providence, but the Huskies have had more luck against the Friars at home, with an 8-6-2 record.
UConn has struggled to find consistency all season, which is normal from young teams. It does not help that over the past five games UConn has played two of the best teams in the nation in Boston College and Minnesota Duluth three times. That many games against two great teams like those over a short timespan is a lot of even the most experienced teams to handle.
Over the past five games, the Huskies have only scored three goals once. The offense must start converting more of their opportunities to take some of the pressure off their defense. The Huskies are very solid on the defensive end, but they are periods of time where they face a lot of pressure due to opponents controlling the time of possession of the puck.
Speaking of defense, this is one area that the Huskies have not been inconsistent. The Huskies play very hard on the defensive end; they’ve had some great performances this season, boasting some shutouts and limiting Boston College to scoring no more than two goals a game this season. However, against Yale and Minnesota Duluth the defense struggled, giving up 11 goals over the two games.
For UConn to beat Providence the Huskies will have to win two key areas. First off, UConn must start scoring more power play goals. The Huskies have only scored 11 power play goals this year. Providence has given up 13 so far this season, so the opportunities will be there for the Huskies.
Second, UConn must win the time of possession battle. If the Huskies can force the Friars to have to spend more energy on defense, not only will it tire out the Friars, but UConn will get better shot opportunities. UConn can focus more energy on the offensive end which will help lighten the load on the defense a little bit.
Some players for the Huskies to watch are Natalie Snodgrass, Morgan Wabick and Briana Colangelo. Snodgrass leads the team in goals and points scored this season, with Colangelo and Wabick tied for second with five goals each. If this trio can do what they have been doing all season, it will always mean that UConn will always have a chance to win.
Providence is playing lights out coming into this matchup. The Friars have demonstrated that they are a team that can win close games, with winning three of their last five games by only one goal. That does not mean the Friars struggle on offense. In their last matchup, Providence scored a whopping 10 goals against Brown University to grab an easy win. Both UConn and Providence have similar numbers on the offensive end this year, so the keys for UConn to win are the same for Providence.
The Friars defense is going to be coming into this matchup with a lot of confidence, especially after shutting out Brown. Just like UConn, do not expect Providence to give up a ton of goals. They allow around 2.8 goals a game, while UConn allows 2.3 goals per game. This is going to be a very low-scoring game that will most likely be decided by which ever offense can find the most success against these defenses.
Some players to watch for on Providence are Sara Hjalmarsson, Maureen Murphy, and Whitney Dove. Hjalmarsson leads the Friars in goals scored and points scored. Murphy is second on the team in goals scored, while Dove leads the team in assists.
UConn takes on Providence in Providence at 6 p.m. on Thursday and 6 p.m. on Friday at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.