UConn will look to get back into the win column this weekend with two home games against Merrimack College.
UConn (15-13-2) is coming into this series in a bit of a rut. The team won only twice in their last five games. As has been the theme for most of the season, the Huskies have struggled to play with the same level of consistency night in and night out. For example, last weekend UConn won 4-2 against Vermont in their first matchup, but the following day they lost 6-2.
To say Merrimack (4-21-5) has had a disappointing season would be an understatement. Merrimack has not won a game since November. UConn and Merrimack have already met once this season, with the Huskies coming away with a 4-3 overtime victory. UConn has had the upper hand between the two teams, going 8-4-2 all-time against the Warriors.
This weekend’s matchup provides UConn with the perfect opportunity for the team to get back on track. UConn is currently in fourth place in Women’s Hockey East. Every win that the team can get from here on out will be crucial in making sure the Huskies qualify for the Hockey East Tournament. Only the top eight teams in the conference will qualify in the tournament.
UConn has been average on the offensive end of the ice this season. The team has scored 73 goals this season, placing them at seventh in the conference for total offense. UConn averages 2.4 goals per game, and the team averages around 30 shots per game. These are very solid numbers, but there have been stretches of time this season where the team has struggled on offense, such as when the team was held scoreless in three straight games. With all that being said, UConn should have a very solid showing on offense this weekend as Merrimack has allowed the second most goals in the conference this season, with 98 given up so far.
UConn has also finally been able to start converting some of its power play opportunities into goals recently. Over its last five games the team has scored three power play goals. If the Huskies can keep this up heading into the final games of the season, they will be in impressive shape for the tournament.
On the defensive end, this is one area where UConn has been consistent all season long. The Huskies have the fifth best defense in Women’s Hockey East, as the team has only given up 63 goals this season.
Opponents are only scoring around two goals a game against them and they allow opponents to take about 25 shots per game. UConn relies heavily on its defense to help set up possessions for its offense, so expect to see the defense come up with some big plays that will set up high scoring chances.
The Huskies will be looking for big games from Natalie Snodgrass, Briana Colangelo and Catherine Crawley. The trio has led the way for the Huskies on offense this year. Snodgrass and Crawley are tied with one another for goals scored this season with 11 each. Both players have also tallied the most assists on the team so far this season, with Snodgrass having 16 and Crawley having 15. Colangelo has done her fair share of work as well, as she has seven goals and 13 assists on the season.
Merrimack’s offense is the second worst offense in the conference, as they have only scored 54 goals so far this season. They average around a goal a game on about 25 shots per game. While the team struggles on offense, Mikyla Grant-Mentis has been the bright spot for the offense this year. She has scored 19 goals and she is the Warriors best offensive option. Keeping her in check will be a major part of UConn’s strategy for the weekend.
UConn will face Merrimack on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. Both games will be played at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.