The No. 7 University of Connecticut men’s hockey team will look to extend its latest win streak against a Hockey East rival, the No. 9 Providence Friars, for a two-game set this weekend.
After reaching the top 10 in the nation for the first time in program history, the Huskies have climbed all the way up to No. 7 after yet another dominant performance last weekend. UConn was able to sweep both of its games against the Maine Black Bears, tallying its third win in a row and improving the team’s overall record to 9-1-1. That includes a 6-1-0 mark in conference play, which places Connecticut at the top of the Hockey East standings. The team can credit its early-season success to the all-around performance that they’ve received from the roster; the Huskies are currently averaging the 18th-most goals scored per game in the nation (3.45), while sophomore goalkeeper Logan Terness currently leads the Hockey East in goals allowed per game (1.31) and is second in save percentage (.950).
During last Friday’s opening contest against Maine, both teams were tied at two goals apiece at the end of regulation. The Huskies entered overtime with authority, dominating possession from the puck drop and causing multiple turnovers by the Black Bears. Graduate student Ty Amonte intercepted an errant pass by one of Maine’s players in the center of the ice, quickly turning the puck around and racing towards the opponent’s net. With only one defender and the goalie in his way, Amonte wound up his shot from the face-off circle and sent the winning goal into the far-side of the net, giving Connecticut the hard-earned 3-2 win. Chase Bradley and Tabor Heaslip scored the team’s first two goals.
Connecticut was challenged early in Saturday’s follow-up contest when captain Roman Kinal received a five-minute major penalty for misconduct for hitting a Maine player from behind; this forced the UConn defense to step up over the remainder of the period. The penalty carried over to the second period, though Connecticut was able to get through the penalty kill without yielding a goal to the Black Bears’ offense. Maine tied the game at two after UConn had been up 2-1 late in the third period. Less than one minute later, Justin Pearson corralled the puck and moved towards the center of the ice, wrapping a shot around between four defenders and the goalkeeper for a score, the first of his career, to secure another 3-2 victory for the Huskies. Bradley and freshman Matthew Wood scored the other UConn goals. For his performance over the weekend, Wood was named this week’s Hockey East Rookie of the Week.
While the Huskies’ offense has seen contributions come from up and down their roster, Bradley was a player who shined bright after recording two goals in the weekend set versus the Black Bears. He’s tallied seven points over the course of this season, tied for fifth on his team and 22nd in the Hockey East. Of those seven points, five have come from goals scored and two have come off of assists. His five goals are second on the Huskies, only trailing standout junior Ryan Tverberg. Bradley’s two goals against Maine came after he was unable to tally a point in five straight contests, ending a personal cold streak. Connecticut will rely on Bradley heavily in their upcoming battle with the Friars.
No. 9 Providence will be a difficult assignment for the Huskies to handle. The team is coming off of two consecutive victories against the then-fifth ranked UMass Minutemen. In game one, the Friars scored a whopping seven goals as part of a 7-4 win against last season’s Hockey East champions, largely thanks to a three-goal effort by sophomore Riley Duran. Junior Brett Berard also had multiple scores for Providence after he tallied two goals in the contest. Game two proved to be more competitive, but the Friars were able to pull ahead once again, this time thanks to a goal by Berard in overtime that sealed the hard-fought 4-3 victory. Providence’s performance in the early going has led the team to a 6-2-1 overall record and a 4-0-1 mark in the Hockey East — good enough for third in the conference.
Both Duran and Berard have combined to make up a majority of the Friars’ offense this season. The two are first and second on their team, respectively, in points; Duran has tallied 10 points and Berard has recorded nine. After his hat trick in the first game against the Minutemen, Duran now has seven goals on the season (first on his team), along with three assists. Berard has managed three goals (third on his team), and his six assists are two better than any other player on Providence’s roster. The duo will look to put pressure on the Huskies’ defense as they look to upset their higher-ranked opponent.
On defense, senior co-captain Max Crozier was named Hockey East Defender of the Week following his performance in the UMass series. Crozier led all Hockey East defensemen in points last weekend, tallying a total of three assists and finishing with a +2 rating over two games. In nine games total this season, Crozier has recorded five assists and 16 shots on goal. This marks the second-consecutive week a Friars’ defensemen has been recognized after Taige Harding earned the honor last week. A Third Team Hockey East All-Star in 2021-22, Crozier has registered 14 goals and 38 assists for 52 points with a +25 rating in 91 career games at Providence.
UConn will be looking to rewrite history against Providence this weekend. In the last 20 matchups between the two programs dating back to 2014, the Huskies have managed an ugly 5-13-2 record. The team did claim victory in their most recent affair on Feb. 4, 2022, when narrowly squeezing by the Friars by a final score of 2-1. Current Huskies Tverberg and John Spetz each recorded one goal and one assist in that game.
The teams will play two games over the weekend. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. from Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island, Game two will follow on Saturday at 3:05 p.m. from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Both games will be streamed online with ESPN+, with live stat updates provided online by StatBroadcast.