The UConn men’s hockey team is set to play the University of New Hampshire Wildcats in a home and away conference series this weekend, starting with a Friday night game at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire. UConn is coming into this weekend fresh off a 2-0 win over Providence College on Monday night, while the Wildcats are coming out of a loss against UMass Amherst. The Wildcats took a tough hit on Wednesday, losing 4-0 against the Minutemen.
“I don’t think we played our best hockey,” UNH senior assistant captain Patrick Grasso said. “We’re not here to make excuses for ourselves. Obviously, we had some guys who were coming back late and didn’t get a whole lot of opportunity to skate, but it wasn’t the result we wanted. Ultimately, we’re going to put this game behind us and try to keep moving forward here.”
New Hampshire (1-1-1) has had quite the short season overall, only playing three games due to the scheduling issues that have been plaguing Hockey East this season because of COVID-19 complications. New Hampshire’s only other times on the ice this year were taking on Maine for the Border Battle where they beat and tied the Black Bears.
UConn (2-4-1) will be missing Kale Howarth for the weekend series after he sustained an upper body injury during the game against Providence College. After a big collision, Howarth left the game early to get the injury checked out. When asked about the injury, head coach Mike Cavanaugh mentioned that it is something that will just need time to heal and that Howarth would be sitting out for the weekend to nurse the injuries. Vladislav Firstov and Yan Kuznetsov are both still in Edmonton with the Russian National Team playing in the IIHF World Junior Championships.
The biggest issue facing New Hampshire going into this weekend is their lack of playing time this season. UConn has had one of the fuller schedules among Hockey East teams, only beat out by UMass Amherst — who have been favorites for filling in holes in the schedule — for conference games played. UConn’s players have had more opportunities to gain in game conditioning and develop team cohesion, which UNH has not been able to replicate. The Wildcats will have to work hard to both outperform UConn and avoid the team’s historically physical brand of hockey.
With Tomas Vomacka’s control of the crease this season and exceptional play from players like Jonny Evans, I am expecting a clean sweep this weekend for the Huskies.