The UConn men’s hockey team hit their stride last weekend, notching two strong wins against a competitive Miami team en route to their first home win and first weekend sweep of the season. This weekend they are home again to face off against the Vermont Catamounts in what should be a good chance to extend their current win streak.
For the Huskies (5-6-3, 2-4-2 Hockey East), they got off to a bit of a slow start this season, dropping tough matchups against Boston College and Providence early on, but recently found their offensive rhythm, having only lost one of their last six games. Just last weekend against a tough Miami team with impressive wins over No. 6 Minnesota Duluth and No. 18 RV Omaha, UConn dominated, sweeping the Redhawks with a 10-7 goal differential over their two matchups.
The wins came on the back of some strong third-period play as well as some key minutes from upperclassmen Ben Freeman and Brian Rigali — who both tallied one goal and three assists on the weekend — as well as freshman Vladislav Firstov, whose two goals and one assist were enough to earn Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week. The Huskies will look to get some more performances like these out of the trio this weekend as they prep for Vermont.
— UConn Men's Hockey (@UConnMHOC) December 2, 2019
The one area UConn has continued to struggle with is on the power play. The Huskies currently sit at No. 8 in the Hockey East in power play conversion rate (15.9%) and dead last in the penalty kill (71.7%). Lucky for UConn though, the Catamounts rank even worse than, coming in at No. 11 in conversion (10.9%) while placing No. 10 in penalty kill (77.8%). This matchup should provide UConn with an opportunity to turn the corner on their powerplay and take advantage of a team that has struggled mightily to defend and convert on their own chances.
Vermont (1-9-2, 0-6-1 Hockey East) has opened the season 1-1, but have since gone winless in their last 10 matchups, including eight losses. The Catamounts are an average defensive team, giving up 2.83 goals a game, but they really struggle offensively, where they score just 1.33 goals a game, putting them last in the conference by nearly a goal. They are led by a duo of juniors Christian Evers and Alex Esposito, who have both racked up three goals and an assist thus far in the year. Other Vermont players to watch for are sophomore Joey Cipollone and freshman Andrew Lucas, who currently leads the team in points with a goal and four assists.
As long as the Huskies can keep their offense rolling from last weekend, they should have little trouble continuing their hot stretch against a struggling team in the Big East. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the XL Center Friday, with the rematch taking place at 3:35 p.m. Saturday. Both games can be listened to 97.9 FM radio.