The UConn men’s hockey team has a chance to host the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Championship Tournament, but they have a kettle of River Hawks staring them down.
UConn (15-14-4, 12-9-2 Hockey East) will take on the No. 12 UMass Lowell River Hawks Friday in Lowell. It will be the Huskies final game of the regular season and their final chance to cement their ability to host a playoff series at the XL Center in Hartford.
Should UConn beat these fearsome Hawks, they will definitely have a spot. They would have secured their place among the hosts and can be as high as the No. 2 seed in the conference, behind the powerhouse that is BC.
This weekend they have a formidable opponent ahead, who have allowed the fifth-least amount of goals this season, with 78. UMass is slotted just above UConn in the conference, with 27 points. Should they tie, UConn will still have secured a hosting spot. If they lose, Maine and BU have a chance to vault them into the top-4.
UConn is coming off of an exciting weekend after coming back against No. 8 UMass last Friday in the last two minutes after goals from Marc Gatcomb and Kale Howarth. They nearly came back Saturday as well, pulling it to 4-3 with two third-period goals.
This season UMass Lowell has allowed just 2.6 goals and 26.2 shots per game, but they’ve also allowed 4.4 penalties per game. From UConn’s perspective, that’s not much of an advantage, though, as they have scored on just 13.2% of power play opportunities despite allowing goals on nearly 28% of their penalties given.
UMass is led by freshman forwards Carl Berglund, a 6-foot-2 Swedish import, and Matt Brown as well as goaltender Tyler Wall.
Berglund leads the team in scoring with 12 goals, the same amount as UConn’s leaders Carter Turnbull and Alexander Payusov. He also has 10 assists to his name, for a total of 22 points. He leads the team in plus-minus with a plus-10.
Brown has spent the season spreading the puck to his teammates, dropping 18 assists to go along with six goals. He leads the team in shots taken as well, despite just the six goals he has taken 89 shots on the year. This points to a potential weakness the Huskies can exploit, as they can entice him to take shots at a high volume, taking away opportunities from teammates with better shot percentages.
Wall, very aptly named I might ask, has been an absolute wall this season – I am so sorry – as he has blocked 93% of his shot this season and allowed just 2.14 goals per game. His save percentage is second in the conference to Maine’s Jeremy Swayman.
UConn will play the River Hawks 7:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted on CBS All Access.