Non-conference play is over and the UConn men’s hockey team is set to begin their Hockey East slate of the season. They will open conference action with UMass Lowell for a two-set home and home series starting on Friday, Oct. 27.
The Huskies have recent history with the River Hawks as they played many very competitive matchups last season. One of the most notable matches included UMass Lowell knocking UConn out of the Big East quarterfinals at Toscano Family Ice Forum where they hosted their first-ever playoff game last March. In their regular season matchup, the teams tied the series 1-1 but then the Huskies ultimately dropped the playoff matchup when they needed the wins the most.
UMass Lowell has started their season with a 3-1-0 overall record. They are coming off a two game winning streak as they swept their series with Colgate last weekend. Lowell presents a strong defensive presence but they also maintain a productive offense. Their team is very well balanced and the Huskies have to stay on top of all their skills this weekend.
“When you get a goal against Lowell you have to earn it,” said head coach Mike Cavanaugh.
A Lowell player to look out for is Matt Crasa. In their Friday night matchup against the Raiders, the junior forward scored all four goals in the River Hawks 4-2 victory. He added an assist on the second game of the series, helping UMass Lowell to sweep Colgate on the road. Crasa finished the weekend with five points, he now totals for seven on the season after he scored two goals in the River Hawks’ season opener on Oct. 7. After his monster weekend, Crasa was named Hockey East Player of the Week, which was announced by the conference on Monday. Crasa is an offensive machine and he has shown this in the first stretch of the season. The Huskies have to keep their eyes peeled on defense for whenever Crasa is going to attempt to strike the net this weekend.
The Ice Bus has not started off their season on the highest note, but they are coming off a much needed win against Union to get them back on track. In the series finale with Union, the Huskies scored five goals, two were scored by sophomore Tristan Fraser. Goaltender Ethan Haider also sealed his first victory and first shutout as a Husky. In this game, all the components that the Huskies have been looking for came together; they looked complete and saw the outcome of a victory. Connecticut needs to continue to take advantage of the opportunities to score, especially on the power play which has been one of their weaker points to start the season.
“He just competes hard, wins a lot of battles down low, and really happy with the productivity that line gave us this weekend. I thought he, Taber [Heaslip] and Ryan Mashie were excellent,” said coach Mike Cavanaugh of Fraser.
“This week is a different opponent and a new week. We’ve got to reset, regroup and be ready to play as well as we did Saturday on Friday night,” Cavanaugh said.
The Ice Bus will begin Hockey East action this Friday, Oct. 27 on the road in Lowell, Massachussetts. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. They will then travel back to Connecticut for the last game of the series and play their first game of the season at the XL Center on Saturday, Oct. 28. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m in Hartford, Connecticut. Both of the games will be available to stream on ESPN+.