This weekend, the UConn Women’s Hockey Team is taking on the Holy Cross Crusaders from Massachusetts in two games on Jan. 22 and 23.
UConn is coming off a victory last weekend over the University of Maine, a game in which they scored 3 goals and gave up 0. That strong defense is something that the Huskies will be looking to continue to rely on this weekend.
That 1-0 weekend sets the Huskies up with a record of 6-9-1. After the unveiling of the Hockey East’s postseason format for this season, and the current power rankings, the Huskies sit at No. 7, above Holy Cross, New Hampshire and Merrimack
The Crusaders have had a difficult season to this point. They’ve won just three of the 15 games that they’ve played, leaving them at No. 9 above just Merrimack in the Hockey East rankings. The postseason for Hockey East for the women’s teams starts in about two weeks, on Feb. 24, so teams are rapidly nearing their last chances to leave a mark on the regular season.
Now, the Huskies are looking to close the season out and head toward the postseason on a high, off a series where they are likely the legitimate favorites. The Crusaders, the underdogs in this series, have a much worse record this season than teams like Maine, whom the Huskies defeated last weekend.
One star of last weekend’s series against the Wildcats was junior goaltender Samantha Carpentier-Yelle. She put on an impressive performance in the 3-0 shutout, a game in which she made 29 saves. She was a large part of the impressive defense mounted by the Huskies.
Natalie Snodgrass continued her impressive offensive season as well, getting her fifth goal this season and her 57th in her career. It was a resurgence for her; she had not scored a goal since the game versus New Hampshire on Jan. 16.
Holy Cross, on the other hand, has lost seven games in a row, and in six of them gave up at least four goals. Their defense has seemingly struggled to hold the line, which could give UConn opportunities to score and then fall back and rely on their goalies and defense to hold off the Crusaders.
This is especially visible looking at their most recent performances; in their last two games against Northeastern, they gave up a total of 20 goals while scoring none. While Northeastern is a cut above the Huskies, they’re currently ranked first and have just one loss and one tie on the season, there’s a difference between losing and losing by 8 to 12 goals.
Even when the Huskies played Northeastern earlier this season, they lost but they made it a competitive situation. They gave up just two goals in their game against the powerhouse, another negative sign for the Crusaders. This series is also an important one for the playoff implications; the Huskies are currently just below a bye week, while the Crusaders are trying to avoid falling down to No. 10 which would give them a more difficult matchup against the No. 7 team instead of the No. 8.
Heading into this matchup, the Huskies have a chance to improve their record and try to challenge Boston University for the sixth seed. However, if they fail and drop even one game to Holy Cross, it will be a very negative sign for UConn heading into the playoffs in less than two weeks.