The UConn women’s hockey team looks to rebound from their somewhat disappointing January as they take on the Maine Black Bears in a two-game series this weekend. This series, announced by the Hockey East Association on Tuesday, is a “rescheduling” of a series that initially would have happened in November.
Both teams are right in the middle of the pack and are looking for a series win this weekend to be put into contention consideration with the top three teams in the conference: Boston College, Northeastern and Providence.
The No. 6 Black Bears (5-6-0, 16 points in Hockey East) split their series against Boston University last weekend, which included a shutout, and they will look to build off that success as they vie for “home ice” advantage in the first round.
On the other hand, the No. 4 Huskies (5-9-1, 19 points in Hockey East) will look to maintain their position in the conference and stay relatively close to the top three teams in the conference as they look to end a four-game losing streak that included losing to Boston College Eagles three times in two weeks.
To win, the Huskies will need to make sure the game does not get away from them early. In their game on Saturday, the Huskies gave up two early goals and although they fought back, their efforts were not enough to beat the Eagles. The Eagles did the exact same thing the next day, but there was no response by the Huskies.
The Huskies will look to improve on the power play as they went 0-7 over the weekend and are 6-29 on the season. There is also the need to finish off shots, as the Huskies are shooting 33.3 shots per game, but only scoring 30 goals on the entire season for a shooting percentage of 6.4.
Although they are shooting more shots than their opponents (466 to 385), this has not resulted in more than five wins. The Huskies have also got to make sure that they do not commit any penalties as they have 2.1 per game for a total of 29 on the season. The Huskies have surrendered five power play goals all season.
The pieces are there; Savannah Bouzide and Viki Harkness have 10 points each while captain Natalie Snodgrass and Jada Habisch are not far behind with eight each. Most of Bouzide’s goals were early in the season against opponents such as Providence, but she does lead the team with six goals.
The Huskies also have support from Morgan Wabick’s six points, five of which are assists, and five-point numbers from Kate Klassen and Danielle Fox.
While they have scored 30 goals, they have given up only 30 goals on the entire year on 385 shots against. That still leads to 2.1 goals per game, but the opposition is scoring on 7.8% of all shots this season. The only reason the shots for the opponent are lower is because the defense is shutting down as many opportunities as possible.
That defense is led by Claire Peterson (2 points), Camryn Wong (4 points), Taylor Wabick (4 points) and more excellent blueliners.
They have a tall task against the Black Bears, who enter Storrs with 14 goals on 255 shots for a shooting percentage of 5.5. They may have played less games than the Huskies, but they are scoring 1.3 goals per game while converting on the power play four times on 29 tries.
That could provide an advantage for the Huskies as they continue to get ahead of their opponents offensively while limiting them defensively.
The main Black Bear to look out for is Ida Kuoppala, whose five goals and eight points lead the team in both categories. She has decent support from Ally Johnson and Rahel Enzler, who have four points each.
Their defense is also stacked and is something to look out for. Led by seniors Daria Tereshkina and Taylor Leech, the defense has surrendered just 19 goals on 392 shots. Although that seems like a lot of shots allowed, they can shut down opposing offenses.
But another reason for their limitations in allowing goals into the crease is because of their dominating goalie. Loryn Porter, the defending defensive player of the week, has surrendered 18 goals on the season with a goal against average of 1.64 and .954 save percentage. This included saving 65 of 66 shots over two games for an average of 32.5 saves per game.
On the other end of the rink are the Huskies’ goaltenders Samantha Carpentier-Yelle and Tia Chan, each of whom have two shutouts. Chan, a freshman, has surrendered 13 goals and has a save percentage of .944 over eight games while Carpentier-Yelle, a junior, has allowed 17 goals into the net and has a save percentage of .907 through the other seven.
The Huskies aim to extend the all-time series lead against Maine to 48-17-8 after this weekend in what should be an excellent showdown.
Due to traveling protocols, both games will be in Storrs at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The first game tips off tonight at 4 p.m. and the second match begins tomorrow at 3 p.m. from the same location. Both games will be available on SportsLive for those watching at home.