Coming off the high of an amazing win at No. 20 Northeastern and sitting atop the Hockey East standings, how will the University of Connecticut men respond and stay focused against a strong Dartmouth team on Saturday night?
The Big Green, members of the ECAC, have been put through quite the gauntlet already, and they’re only two games through the season. They opened at No. 14 Harvard University, and were blown out 4-0. After taking last year off because of the pandemic, Dartmouth did not look sharp, and it showed against a team the caliber of the Crimson.
In their next game, at defending national champion No. 9 UMass just a week later, the Big Green looked like a completely different team. They opened up a 3-0 lead — one score in each of the three periods —and were able to hold on, despite surrendering two goals late. The resilience demonstrated by this Dartmouth team against such a strong opponent could spell trouble for the Huskies.
UConn also demonstrated a great deal of resilience in its contest at Northeastern on Tuesday, turning what had been a high-scoring affair into a scoreless final period for both teams, resulting in a 5-3 victory.
For this contest, UConn will see four days of rest, while Dartmouth will play host to Harvard on Friday in a revenge match that could tire the team out.
For the Big Green, the main player to watch is senior forward Jeff Losurdo, who picked up a goal and an assist in the match against UMass. Losurdo will look to build on his six scores and nine assists in his sophomore season and develop a leadership role to take Dartmouth to the top of the ECAC.
Another thing to keep an eye out for will be Dartmouth’s dual goalkeeping strategy, which roughly splits the minutes between senior Justin Ferguson and sophomore Clay Stevenson. How the minutes are divided should be interesting, as Ferguson has undoubtedly proven to be the better option thus far, not allowing any goals to this point. Opponents have scored under Stevenson’s watch, one of which came on an empty net.
For the Huskies, the player to watch is sophomore Nick Capone. Capone shined in UConn’s win at Northeastern with two goals and an assist, so it will be interesting to see if he can have a repeat performance.
In the series between these two squads, both games have been played in Hanover, New Hampshire, with the Big Green winning both times, first in 2011 and again in 2019. The key to this contest is simple: the Huskies wearing down what should be a fatigued Dartmouth team. If UConn can utilize its depth and get on the board early like it did against Northeastern, it will be an enjoyable and scenic ride back to Storrs down Interstate 91. If the Huskies can’t take advantage of their additional rest, then the trip will just be scenic.
Puck drop is set for 8:05 p.m. Saturday, and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.