Ranked for first time, UConn men’s hockey heads to Lowell

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This week has been a big one for the UConn men’s hockey program, as the Huskies got an important win over No. 18 Northeastern. This win pushed UConn to a 8-6-2 record this season, which puts the Huskies in the top four teams of Hockey East. After this win, Northeastern fell four places in the USCHO national polls from No. 14. UConn was ranked for the first time in program history, landing the No. 20 spot on the USCHO poll. 

The USCHO poll takes input from 28 coaches, 22 writers and other hockey professionals from across the country. This poll is arguably the most relevant ranking of a team’s standing in college hockey and very accurately represents the state of competition. The Huskies are 7-2-1 over the last 10 games they’ve played, and they have taken down top ranked teams like Boston College and Northeastern University during that stint. 

Northeastern started the game last week with the dominant performance you would expect from a nationally ranked team. UConn trailed the entire first period after giving up an early goal, however the first period would not define the Huskies’ performance. Tomas Vomacka did not let in another goal from Northeastern, stopping 24 shots. UConn also finished the game ahead in shots on goal with 42 to NU’s 25. Freshman Artem Shlaine was a dominant player on the ice, winning 13 faceoffs and scoring his first collegiate goal against NU goaltender Connor Murphy. 

“He’s halfway through his freshman year and he’s been playing really, really well. He’s had a lot of chances to score and I kept telling him ‘Just stay with it, it will go in for you,’” UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh said of Shlaine’s performance. 

UConn finished the game against Northeastern with a 4-1 victory. The Huskies scored two goals in the second period, one from Shlaine and the other by Jonny Evans. Ryan Wheeler extended UConn’s lead six minutes into the third period, and the team’s final score came on an empty net goal by Kale Howarth with only 1:39 remaining in the game. 

The Huskies are now set to head to Lowell to take on the UMass Lowell River Hawks on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Huskies previously played the River Hawks on home ice,   losing 2-1 on Dec. 21. Since then, UConn has had time to develop and condition. This is especially the case for freshmen like Shlaine and Evans. UMass Lowell holds a 3-5 record this season, so the Huskies should have no trouble dominating the ice at the Tsongas Center. 

The game will be available to watch on NESN. 

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