After nearly a year of anticipation, the debut of Connecticut’s first collegiate ice hockey tournament will happen this weekend. Connecticut’s four Division I hockey programs will face off in the first-of-its-kind tournament at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport this weekend.
Connecticut Ice will feature four high-energy games in two days. UConn and Quinnipiac kick off the action on Saturday at 4 p.m. followed by Yale vs. Sacred Heart at 7:30. Then, the two losers will face off in a consolation game on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., and the winners will play in the Championship at 7.
Along with the college tournament, the weekend festivities also include youth and high school hockey games, as well as youth clinics. Connecticut will be showcasing its hockey talent from all levels.
UConn (9-10-4) enters this historic event on a two-game winning streak. The Huskies beat Maine 3-2 last week in the same arena they will be playing this weekend, and they followed that up with an overtime 3-2 victory over No. 12 ranked Northeastern last Saturday.
UConn’s performance last week earned a couple of players Hockey East honors. Freshman Vladislav Firstov was named the conference Rookie of the Week, while sophomore goalie Tomas Vomacka was named Defensive Player of the Week for Hockey East.
Firstov scored three goals in the two wins last week to become the Huskies’ leader in goals (9) and points (16). Vomacka made 37 saves in the win over Maine and 35 more in the Northeastern game. Vomacka needed to step up his game for UConn to succeed, and he delivered in a big way.
UConn’s first opponent in the tournament is also coming off a win. Quinnipiac (13-8-1) beat Holy Cross 4-3 in their most recent game. The Bobcats have had a really good season so far and were ranked No.17 in the nation in the most recent poll. Their top goal scorer is Wyatt Bongiovanni, who has 11, but the most important player on their team is the goalie Keith Petruzelli, who allows just 2.25 goals per game.
Sacred Heart will have the luxury of playing this tournament at their home arena, but even without the home-ice advantage, they would have a solid chance at the trophy. The Pioneers enter the tournament with a 14-8-2 record, and they received some votes on the most recent poll.
They score goals at the fourth-best rate in the country at 3.83 goals per game. They have multiple lethal scorers on offense, including Jason Cotton, Vito Bavaro and Austin McIlmurray, who have 43 combined goals. Sacred Heart hasn’t been shut out a single time this season, so you better score a few if you’re trying to beat them.
The final team in the tournament is Yale (8-9), who hasn’t had as great of a season, but like the Huskies, they enter on a two-game winning streak with victories over RPI and Union. Yale is a polar opposite team as Sacred Heart. The Bulldogs struggle mightily to score goals, only cashing in 40 times this entire season. Their leading scorer Curtis Hall has over a quarter of them himself with 12.
All four of the teams competing this weekend can definitely hold their own with one another, so don’t be surprised to see any one of them hoisting a trophy at the weekend’s end. At first glance, Quinnipiac may be the favorite, but anything could happen once the puck is dropped. UConn has already beaten multiple ranked opponents this season, so another would hardly be a surprise.