This weekend, the UConn women’s hockey team will be facing off in two games against the Merrimack College Warriors, from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. They play both Friday, Dec. 18 and Saturday, Dec. 19.
Coming off their first win of the season, a 4-1 victory over the Boston University Terriers last weekend, the women are looking to improve on their 1-3-1 record. Merrimack, on the other hand, comes into the two games with a 1-1 record, after their first four games of the season were postponed.
UConn’s slow start to the season was made worse by having multiple games postponed due to the coronavirus; four of their first six games were postponed, two games against both the University of Maine and the University of Vermont. Despite this, they showed resilience in their victory over the Terriers last weekend. They’ll be trying to bring some of the strength they showed in that game to their games against the Warriors.
UConn was led to victory in that game by senior Natalie Snodgrass and junior Camryn Wong, who both scored early in the first period. Snodgrass in particular helped set up goals for Wong and their teammate Danielle Fox, another junior, who scored early in the first period via an assist from senior Morgan Wabick. Snodgrass’ performance earned her the Hockey East Player of the Week award.
The Huskies will need to continue to perform as they face the Warriors. The goalie for the Warriors, sophomore Emma Gorski, was the Defensive Player of the Week for Hockey East last week. She earned the title by making an impressive 67 saves in two games against Holy Cross. UConn will need to find ways to get around Gorski’s goaltending if they want to win their games against the Warriors.
However, UConn’s goaltender isn’t slacking off, either. Freshman Tia Chan showed up massively for the team on Saturday, playing the full game and blocking 20 of the 21 shots that came her direction from the nationally-ranked Terriers. This game could well come down to which goalie is more on point, as both have put up impressive performances in recent games.
UConn will also be relying on senior Savannah Bouzide, their current top scorer and one of their best players. Bouzide has scored five goals in the first portion of the season and is the highest scorer for the Huskies by three goals. Second place in that category is Kate Klassen, who has two. Bouzide will need to continue her strong performance over the weekend if the Huskies want a chance to get past the Warrior’s strong defense.
Despite their hesitant start to the season, the Huskies have a solid chance in this series. UConn could find success with their utilization of power plays; they’ve scored on 15.8% of their power play opportunities, while the Warriors have yet to score during a power play.
UConn also has a lower rate of penalties than the Warriors; the Huskies have had about three minutes of penalty time a game, while the Warriors have had 13.5, though it’s important to note UConn has played more games than Merrimack at this point in the season. If that streak continues, UConn could capitalize and use superior play in power plays to gain an edge.
However, there are areas that could cause problems for UConn. They’re averaging 2.2 goals a game, worse than the 2.5 averaged by Merrimack, on top of Merrimack outperforming in the goaltending department as mentioned before, which is a bad sign when UConn has had some scoring difficulties.
The team will be relying on Snodgrass and Bouzide to continue to show up as they try to extend their win streak past one game and continue to improve on their poor start to the season.