The University of Connecticut Women’s Ice Hockey Team will be playing their first round of the playoffs this coming Feb. 28 at 4:30 p.m. EST.
This will be the Huskies’ first match of the postseason after the team they were set to play in the first round, the Merrimack Warriors, were unable to compete due to COVID-19-related protocols, according to Hockey East. The No. 7 Huskies now find themselves matched up against the No. 2 Eagles in a best-of-one to determine who moves on to the semifinals.
It’s a match with a lot at stake. The losing team is out of this year’s Hockey East playoffs. Their season is over, their seniors have played their last games at the school. That’s it. The winner gets to move on, to be one of the four best teams in the conference and gets a chance to fight onwards through the semifinals on Wednesday of next week, towards the finals on Saturday.
The Huskies are, undoubtedly, the underdogs. They come into the series with an 8-9-1 record, and have lost all four games they played against the Boston College Eagles this season, and only one of those games has ended with the Huskies within one goal of a tie.
The Eagles, on the other hand, are 14-4, and three of their four losses come against Providence College and Northeastern, who are ranked No. 3 and No. 1, respectively. The fourth loss was against Boston University, who are ranked No. 6, but it also came in the last two games of the season when the Eagles were already in good position, and they only lost by a single goal in the 2-3 scoreline.
The Huskies team has had a much more tumultuous season, dropping games to a number of top teams amid an ever changing schedule due to COVID-19-related delays and cancelations. The Huskies were set to play Merrimack twice in the last week, both last Friday and this past Wednesday, and both games were eventually cancelled due to COVID-19.
That combined with cancelations from the University of New Hampshire on the 19th and 20th means that the Women’s team hasn’t played a game in two weeks, since their victories over Holy Cross on the 12th and 13th of the month. That could be a positive thing for the Huskies, allowing them time for a reset and to change things up, but it also could mean that they’re going in without the warmup that weeks of consistent weekend games can give you.
They’re going to be relying on their defensive core, bolstered by goalies Samantha Carpentier-Yelle and Tia Chan, to put up a very strong performance if they want to have a chance to claim the upset victory. Both goalies have had successful games this season but whichever plays the majority of Sunday’s game will have to be on their best to limit Boston College’s scoring potential.
UConn’s offense has not always looked as strong as the defense. They’ve sometimes struggled to score even against teams like Holy Cross who throughout the season showed a troubling inability to perform on the defensive side of the rink.
However, best-of-one formats can lend themselves to upsets like the one the Huskies will be looking to cause because all you have to do is be good for one day, for one game. There is no second game you have to win, lightning does not need to strike twice. It’s one game that decides who’s season continues and who’s comes crashing to a conclusion.