To finish off the 2020-21 regular season, UConn will host the No. 15 Providence Friars in the Freitas Ice Forum on Friday. Should the Huskies (9-10-2) come out on top, they will be granted a playoff seeding. This will be the third time both sides met; their most recent on Feb. 12 when Providence (10-7-5) swept the visitors 4-0.
Looking at the hosts, UConn enter the match off a weekend home split from the UMaine series that saw them lose 6-4 the first match but recovered 4-2. The Huskies still hold their spot in the No. 4 position of the Hockey East Power Index with an HEPI of 51.45. Providence is right on their tail with a .02 HEPI difference between the two schools. This is crucial as postseason matches of seeds No. 1 to No. 5 will automatically qualify for the quarterfinals, which are set to be taken place on March 14.
To head coach Mike Cavanaugh, being able to play over 20 matches this season given the COVID-19 pandemic amongst other factors is more than a blessing.
“To start the year, if you told me that was gonna be the case, I would’ve been ecstatic,” he said. “We got a great opportunity [today] to play a team we’re neck and neck with and two teams that are very evenly matched up … it’s gonna be an exciting matchup [tonight] and looking forward to the challenge.”
This will be the second year in a row that UConn’s postseason hopes come down to the result of the final match of the season. To Mike Cavanaugh, the Providence isn’t a “must-win game” but a game where his players should embrace the challenge against a team like Providence.
In terms of injuries, Vladislav Firstov is unconfirmed to make an appearance in Friday’s match while Nick Capone has been ruled out, according to the head coach. Mike Cavanaugh did say Firstov did get some skating time in, but whether or not he will play will be determined on matchday.
As for the Friars, they will enter the match off a Northeastern series where they first won 4-2 away but tied 3-3 at home that ultimately saw the Boston Huskies win in a shootout. Their second tie saw a slow start to the match until Northeastern slotted the first goal in the second period.
Puck drop starts at 5 p.m. EST.