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The UConn Huskies will kick-off the new year jumping back into Hockey East action Friday night with a quick road trip to the University of Massachusetts. The Huskies have faced UMass more than any other school in Hockey East but Friday night's match-up will mark the first conference game between the two schools. The Huskies are back in action after going 1-1-0 in the Frozen Holiday Classic, beating Union 3-2 before falling to No. 9/7 UMass Lowell in the championship game, 3-1. The Minutemen are coming off an appearance in the Catamount Cup where they fell to No. 16 Providence, 4-1, then rebounded to beat Air Force, 5-1.
UConn vs. UMass All-Time Series... The UMass Minutemen lead the all-time series, 26-9-2. Since the Huskies made the transition to Division I hockey in 1998-99, the Huskies are 2-10-1 against their Minutemen. The Huskies knocked off UMass 2-1 in the consolation game of last season's UConn Hockey Classic tournament at the XL Center, the first meeting between the two schools in the state of Connecticut since the 1977-78 season. UConn's only other victory against UMass on the Division I level came in the 2004-05 season, 3-2 in Amherst.
- Senior Cody Sharib scored a goal in both games of the Frozen Holiday Classic. All three of his goals this season have come in the last five games.
- The UConn power play is just 2-for-30 (.067) over the last eight games with both power play goals coming in a 6-4 loss at UMass Lowell on Dec. 3rd.
- The Huskies did not take a penalty in Sunday's 3-1 loss to UMass Lowell. The last time UConn did not take a penalty in game was Feb. 15, 2013 in a 4-1 loss vs. Holy Cross, a span of 62 games.
- Goaltender Rob Nichols is ranked fifth in Hockey East and 15th nationally in save percentage (.931). He has faced 534 shots this season, the third highest total in the nation.
- Nichols has played 96.9% of the minutes this season (1010:09), eighth highest nationally.
- Freshman Spencer Naas recorded the second game-winning goal of his young career to beat Union. He also had the game-winner to beat #11 Vermont, 2-1. Naas leads all UConn rookies with 7 points (4g/3a). His four goals are second on the team.
Scouting the Minutemen... The UMass Minutemen enter the new year at 5-13-0 overall and 1-9-0 in Hockey East play. The Minutemen snapped a five-game slide on Monday night, beating Air Force 5-1 in the consolation game of the Vermont Catamount Cup. Their lone Hockey East win came back on October 24th on the road at Northeastern, 3-2. UMass sophomore Frank Vatrano is the team's leading point scorer and ranks third in Hockey East with 18 on the season. Vatrano's 11 goals this year ties him for second among the league's top goal scorers. Freshman forward Dennis Kravchenko is fourth among Hockey East rookies in scoring, posting six goals and eight assists on the year. Classmate Patrick Lee also has double digit points with three goals and eight assists. The Minutemen are right in the middle of the pack averaging 2.72 goals per game this season but defensively rank last in the league and the country allowing 4.44 goals per game.
Last Meeting with UMass... The Huskies knocked of UMass, 2-1, in the consolation game of the 2013 UConn Hockey Classic holiday tournament at the XL Center. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Minutemen in the all-time series. The two teams skated to scoreless tie through the first two periods before UConn's Ryan Tyson lit the lamp 26 seconds in to the third period. UMass tied it at 9:12 on a Steven Guzzo goal but the Huskies found some power play magic late to win it. Senior Billy Latta blasted a one-timer past Steve Mastalerz with 5:04 left for his fourth power play goal of the season and his second game-winner. Freshman goaltender Robby Nichols made his third career start and turned away 37 shots to earn the win. Steve Mastalerz made 25 saves for UMass. The Minutemen held a 38-27 edge on shots.
Last Time Out... UConn sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols posted 35 saves but late goals in the first and third periods lifted the No. 7 nationally ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks to a 3-1 win in the championship game of the Frozen Holiday Classic on Sunday. UML sophomore defenseman Dylan Zink was named the tournament MVP after giving his team a 1-0 lead late in the first period. The Huskies lone goal of the night came with just 13 seconds left to play as senior Cody Sharib scored his second goal in as many nights to spoil the shutout for River Hawk goaltender Kevin Boyle who made 23 saves. The two teams played an even first period before Zink gave his team a 1-0 lead with his fifth goal of the season at the 17:53 mark. UConn got the only power play chance of the night in the second period when Ryan McGrath was called for interference at 12:33. The Huskies got a pair of shots on goal but couldn't crack Boyle. The River Hawks extended their lead to 2-0 with just over three minutes to play in the third. Michael Colantone and Michael Fallon were loose on a 2-on-1 chance and UConn's Corey Ronan tried to recover on defense. Colantone was able to get his stick on the puck and chip it on net, just getting a piece of Nichols before it took a UML bounce and hit the post and in for a two-goal advantage. The Huskies pulled Nichols for the extra skater but A.J. White collected a loose puck along the left boards just over the blue line and rifled a shot in to the empty net to ice the game away at 3-0. The Huskies kept pressing and avoided being shutout for the third time this season as Sharib chipped in a rebound in front to produce the 3-1 final. Nichols made 13 saves in the first period and 15 saves in the second on the way to a 35 save night. Over the two games, the sophomore netminder stopped 72 of 76 shots he faced. For UConn, senior Jacob Poe and Spencer Naas were both named to the all-tournament team.