The UConn men’s hockey team is getting hot at the right time and people are starting to notice. In the latest USCHO.com college hockey top 20 rankings, UConn received the fourth most votes among unranked teams. The perfect way to boost a resume and plunge into the polls with authority is by earning a pair of ranked victories, which the Huskies will look to do this weekend as they take on No. 16 Boston College Friday night at the XL Center in Hartford and No. 12 Providence College Saturday night at Schneider Arena in Providence.
So far this year, Boston College has been good but not fantastic, boasting a record of 5-4-1 with no games against then-ranked teams. They’re tied for fourth in the Hockey East with 10 points, just behind the second place Huskies. However, the Eagles do have a few home wins over currently ranked squads: They defeated both No. 17 Northeastern and No. 14 Denver at home.
The Eagles are led by senior forward Jack McBain, who has been a key facilitator for the offense with nine assists. The Toronto product has also contributed in the goal-scoring department, netting five in twice as many contests.
The Huskies will have to keep him from slinging the puck to fellow senior forward Marc McLaughlin, who has sent a team-high seven shots into the back of the goal. This deadly duo will likely keep UConn keeper Darion Hanson busy all night and turn this game into something of a high-scoring affair — a pace the Huskies don’t excel in playing at, though lately, they have improved.
“We’re going to have to have our ‘A’ game tomorrow against Boston College. They’re a formidable opponent, who is dangerous upfront and are deep on the backend as well,” said Coach Mike Cavanaugh. ““They’re so dynamic…their defensemen are really mobile and that ignites their offense that is really electric.”
In the second contest of the weekend the Huskies will play No. 12 Providence — a team barely treading water on the heels of a three-game losing streak. Two of those losses came to current No. 8 UMass, getting outscored in the series 6-1. Similar to BC, the Friars’ best win came at home against No. 14 Denver in a game that felt like a shootout.
Providence is led this season by sophomore forward Brett Berard, who has a strong seven goals and five assists so far. It will be critical for the Huskies to keep Berard away from power play situations, as he thrives and has netted three of his goals under such conditions. The Friars’ key facilitator, Nick Poisson, has dished out seven assists in the current campaign while adding three scores, demonstrating his role as an important contributor to Providence’s high-powered offense.
To win these games, the Huskies will need to keep pace offensively, which they have been doing as of late. As long as they don’t let things slip away on power plays and breakaways, we could be seeing the Huskies emerge in the rankings come next Tuesday.