The UConn women’s hockey team swept the University of New Hampshire Wildcats in its best of two, home and away series this weekend.
With this result, the Huskies (5-5-1 Hockey East) achieve a .500 win/loss percentage for the first time this season and get their first wins since their sweep of Merrimack College in mid-December. On the other hand, the Wildcats (3-10-1 Hockey East) extend their winless streak to five games.
Going into the weekend, the story revolved around a return to campus for a team that had been allowed to go home for the holidays. In hindsight, the ability to mentally and physically recuperate at home clearly paid dividends; however, before the first drop of the puck, the question of whether this lenient break would help or hurt the team still remained.
From the start of UConn’s first game against New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 15, we saw just how much this period of rest helped the team. Forward Amy Landry found the back of the net 41 seconds into the contest, getting on the end of build-up play by forwards Kate Klassen and Coryn Tormala to put the Huskies up 1-0; this was Landry’s first career goal for the Huskies, while Klassen and Tormala got their first assists of the season, respectively.
“Honestly, it felt really good,” Landry told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter Page. “It’s been a year and a half since I got my first goal, so it’s an elephant off the shoulders.”
Clearly, there were no signs of rust to be found, not only in relation to Landry but for the team as a whole. The Huskies maintained their discipline throughout the entirety of the match, keeping the Wildcats to one power play in the second period, which they were not able to capitalize on. Moreover, goaltender Tia Chan blocked everything that came her way, as she made 24 saves to ensure the Huskies’ 1-0 victory over New Hampshire.
One of the main things that head coach Chris MacKenzie had been trying to instill in the team was the importance of scoring in the early and late stages of periods, which they were able to implement on Friday.
“We actually addressed it this week after the weekend at Vermont where they had scored early and late in periods. The team really responded to it,” MacKenzie told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter page.
This was not a one-off thing, as forward Natalie Snodgrass scored one minute into the first period of their second game against the Wildcats on Saturday, Jan. 16, receiving the assist from fellow forward Morgan Wabick. With this goal, Snodgrass increases her goal tally to three, while Wabick now has an impressive five assists.
To say Saturday juxtaposed Friday’s uneventful performance would be an understatement, as UConn could not stop finding the back of the net. Forwards Danielle Fox and Natalie Snodgrass were the catalysts for defender Camryn Wong’s second goal of the season, scoring 27 seconds into the second period to give the Huskies a 2-0 cushion. Snodgrass increased her assist tally to four, while Fox now has three assists this season.
Just before the end of the second period, Landry once again smashed it past the New Hampshire goaltender to get her second career goal and put UConn up 3-0. Kate Klassen and Emily Reid each assisted on the play to get their first and second assists, respectively.
“It was basically the same goal (as the first), just crashing the net, being a big body in front of the net,” Landry told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter page.
Despite being the center of attention, Landry made sure to give credit to her teammates, who ultimately were the catalysts for her two goals this weekend:
“They’re [(teammates)] really good role models, all the captains’ assistants, everyone; it’s just a lot of leadership on the team and it creates a positive environment,” Landry told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter page.
Forward Savannah Bouzide made it 4-0 at the midway point of the third period, capitalizing off a pass from fellow forward Jada Habsich, who now has four assists this season. Bouzide’s ability to find the back of the net just before the match’s conclusion means that she has now scored a total of six goals; she is currently the team’s top goal scorer, with fellow forward Viki Harkness in second with two goals, respectively.
One of MacKenzie’s main priorities in their practices leading up to the match was to maintain a consistent style of play, something they were able to accomplish this weekend:
“[We worked on maintaining] consistency the whole sixty minutes, really trying to establish how we want to play the entire time,” MacKenzie told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter page. “Coming out of the T.V. timeouts with energy, ready to go.”
Furthermore, MacKenzie addressed the need for solid performances from everyone on the squad:
“Whatever the situation, we’re going to need someone to step up and contribute; it can’t always be forwards, it’s going to have to be people you may not expect it from,” MacKenzie told the UConn Women’s Hockey official Twitter page.
Finally, veteran defender Reid spoke on how the team will attempt to maintain this momentum going into next week:
“We can’t get too high or too low,” Reid said. “We just have to stick together because we know we can beat any team.”
The Huskies now set their sights on a best of two, home and away series against Boston University on Saturday, Jan. 23 and Sunday, Jan. 24. The Terriers (1-2-0 Hockey East) fell to UConn on Dec. 11 in Storrs, and will look to not only get revenge, but their first victory since Dec. 4.