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The UConn Huskies open their Hockey East series with the No. 13 nationally ranked Providence Friars Wednesday night from the XL Center in downtown Hartford. The two teams will take the ice at Schneider Arena on Saturday night. The Huskies are coming off a three-point weekend against Maine and still alone in eighth place with 13 points in the Hockey East standings. The Friars are in fourth place heading into this week with 16 points. Just five points currently separate Providence in fourth from 10th place in the standings.
UConn vs. Providence All-Time Series... UConn and Providence have met three times and the all-time series is tied at 1-1-1. The Huskies made history last season when they notched the programs first-ever win over a nationally ranked top-10 opponent thanks to a 3-2 win at #9 ranked Providence. The two teams also met in 2004-05, a Providence 4-3 win at home, and their first meeting took place in 2001-02, a 2-2 tie also at Schneider Arena.
- Sophomore Rob Nichols was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week after stopping 71 of 74 shots against Maine including a 41 save night in the 2-1 overtime win.
- Nichols has now made 30 or more saves 15 times this season. He has had 30 or more saves in nine of his last 10 games.
- This week's match-up features two the league's top-goaltenders in Nichols and PC's Jon Gillies. Gillies ranks third (.931) and Nichols fourth (.929) in save percentage in the league. The are ranked ninth and 12th, respectively, in the nation.
- Freshman Spencer Naas scored his fourth game-winning goal of the season to beat Maine on Friday night in overtime. Naas has half of UConn's game-winners this season. He is tied for the Hockey East lead in game-winning goals.
- Naas leads the team with 11 goals and is third in Hockey East and the nation in rookie goal scoring. His 14 points ties him for 12th among league rookies.
- Senior captain Ryan Tyson scored his first goal of the season in Sunday's 2-2 tie with Maine, ending a 32-game streak without a goal.
Scouting the Friars... The Providence Friars enter the week at #13 in both the USCHO.com Top-20 poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top-15 poll. The Friars lost in their only action last week, falling on the road at Boston College, 3-2. The Friars are led by junior goaltender Jon Gillies who has guided a defensive unit allowing 2.08 goals per game, second in Hockey East. Gillies is third among league leaders in both goals against average (2.06) and save percentage (.931). He has posted four shutouts this season, tied for the most in the nation. Offensively, the Friars are led by junior Trevor Mingoia who is eighth in the league in scoring with 24 points. He has 13 goals on the season and is tied for the league lead with six coming on the power play. Mingoia and senior Shane Luke each have four game-winning goals on the season, tied for the league lead. The Friars have 10 players with double digit points on the season.
Last Meeting with Providence... The Huskies got a career-high 58 saves from senior Matt Grogan on the way to a 3-2 upset win over #9 ranked Providence last February. UConn fell behind 1-0 but scored three-straight goals en route to the program's first-ever win over a nationally ranked top-10 opponent. The Friars outshot the Huskies 60-26 but Grogan proved up to the task, setting a new UConn Division I record for saves in a game. Down 1-0 in the first, UConn tied the game just before the end of the period as junior Ryan Tyson scored on a rebound for his fourth of the season. Sophomore Patrick Kirtland notched his fourth of the year at 1:33 in the second to give UConn a lead they would never lose. Senior Billy Latta extended the lead to two-goals, creating a turnover and scoring on a break-away at 12:44 in the third period. Providence's two-goals came off the stick of Ross Mauermann.
Last Time Out... Seniors Ryan Tyson and Trevor Gerling each scored in the second period to help UConn erase a 2-0 Maine lead on the way to a 2-2 tie Sunday afternoon at the XL Center. The win gave the Huskies three of four points in the weekend series with the Black Bears. UConn's Rob Nichols and Maine's Sean Romeo each finished the afternoon with 30 saves. Maine built a 2-0 lead in to the second period thanks to goals by Cam Brown and Jake Rutt. The Huskies jumped right back into it with a pair of goals coming just 34 seconds apart. Tyson got his first goal of the season to put the Huskies on the board at 12:16. Just 34 seconds later the Huskies struck again as Gerling ended a seven-game scoring drought with his eighth goal on the season to tie it 2-2. The Black Bears looked like they had pulled off a dramatic win with a late goal coming with 21.0 seconds left. Junior Devin Shore snuck a puck in at the right post but the goal was reviewed and waved off for goaltender interference. In the overtime, each team generated just one shot with Nichols stopping a Rutt shot from the left circle to keep the game tied.
Rob Nichols Named HEA DPOW... Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols picked-up his second Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week award on Monday. Nichols stopped 71 of the 74 shots he faced against Maine to help guide the Huskies to a 1-0-1 weekend. For the third time this season, Nichols tied his career high of 41 saves as the Huskies posted a 2-1 overtime win at Maine. He followed that up with a 30 save effort in a 2-2 tie with Black Bears at home on Sunday.