If it feels like the University of Connecticut men’s hockey team has been in a gauntlet as of late, your instincts aren’t deceiving you. After their dual weekend losses versus current No. 19 Boston College and No. 12 Providence, the Huskies will look to bounce back in a serious way in their home and home series against the No. 15 UMass Lowell Riverhawks.
It wouldn’t be controversial to say that the Riverhawks have been great this season. Although it’s important to keep in mind that they have played the fewest games in the Hockey East (four), they are still the only undefeated team remaining in the conference. Lowell’s only non-conference loss came in their season opener in the desert against a solid Arizona State team, but they avenged the defeat with a win the next day.
The Riverhawks have a nice collection of ranked wins, taking two against Boston University in October, which were followed up by consecutive home wins versus Northeastern University and Boston College.
The key player for Lowell is senior forward Lucas Condotta, who has eight points on the season, consisting of a healthy four goals and four assists. The Ontario product started the season with a mindset to set up his teammates, but recently, he has had more of a scoring mentality, netting three goals in the past four games. If the Riverhawks want to succeed, they’ll need Condotta to help out, whether it’s by distributing or attacking.
Another important piece for the Riverhawks will be junior forward Andre Lee of Sweden, who leads the team in goals scored. The future LA King was electric in Lowell’s last game against Boston College, in a contest where he netted two, which ended up being the difference in the 4-2 victory.
As of late, senior Owen Savory has been done a nice job of handling the goalkeeping duties for Lowell, only allowing an average of 1.31 goals per game, which ranks second in the country. His save percentage sits at an excellent 94.1%, which is good for seventh in the nation. The Riverhawks will desperately need their keeper to be on point this weekend against a Connecticut team that has been on a tear offensively.
Leading that UConn offense is future Toronto Maple Leaf forward Ryan Tverberg, who has been sensational in this campaign. Tverberg has scored in each of his last five contests, totaling eight points in that span. The offense goes as Tverberg goes, meaning that it could be hard to succeed if the Ontarian is not on point.
“[Ryan Tverberg] is not afraid to go to the dirty areas,” coach Mike Cavanaugh noted. “He’s not afraid to get hit because no one’s hurt after you put the puck in the net.”
Another weapon to watch out for is senior forward Jachym Kondelik, who has done a phenomenal job getting his teammates involved, totaling eight assists this season. The Tverberg-Kondelik connection is real and should come together for at least a goal or two against this stingy Lowell defense.
“You could make the argument that Lowell has been the most consistent team in the Hockey East over the last 10 seasons,” Coach Cavanaugh said. “We had a really good week of practice [with an] emphasis on penalty killing.”
On goalkeeper Darion Hanson’s off night last Saturday, Cavanaugh commented, “The great players bounce back. The great pitchers like Gerrit Cole and Chris Sale both have nights where they give up six or seven runs.”
The first game will be broadcasted on NESN, while the second will be shown on CW20, with the puck drop commencing at 3:35 p.m. for both contests.