The Huskies will open a home-and-home Hockey East series with the No. 11 ranked Providence Friars on Wednesday night in the XL Center, then head to Schneider Arena for the return engagement Friday night.
UConn is coming off a pair of 2-2 ties with Merrimack last weekend as they head into this week’s match-up with a 6-6-4 record in Hockey East, good for seventh place in the standings. The Friars come to Hartford riding a seven-game winning streak that has them climbing up the league standings. Providence is 8-6-2 in league play, tied with Vermont for fifth place with 18 points.
The Hockey East standings feature Boston College (27pts) and Boston University (24pts) at the top then eight teams all battling for playoff positions with third place and 10th place seperated by just six points. The Huskies have 16 points and are two points out of fifth place and three points out of third.
UConn’s goaltending tandem of senior Rob Nichols and freshman Adam Huska have posted impressive numbers this season. Huska is currently ranked third in Hockey East with a .920 save percentage. His 2.68 goals against average has him ranked eighth among league goaltenders. The New York Rangers prospect has been impressive in Hockey East play, posting a 6-2-3 record and a .930 save percentage and 2.24 goals against.
Nichols owns a 2.41 goals against and a .917 save percentage in 13 games played this year. He ranks fifth in the league in goals against and sixth in save percentage.
Sophomore Tage Thompson has scored 17 goals and is tied for third in Hockey East and tied for sixth in the nation. His 17 goals marks the highest total by a Husky since the 2011-12 season when Cole Schneider led the team with 23 goals and Brant Harris had 18.
Senior Evan Richardson scored his first goal in 21 games for the Huskies in Saturday’s 2-2 tie with Merrimack. His last goal came back on October 21 against AIC. On the season, Richardson has five goals and 14 assists.
Junior Spencer Naas ended a five-game drought without a goal in the tie. He is second on the club with 13 goals on the season, matching his career-high total from his freshman season.
SCOUTING THE FRIARS
The Providence Friars come into the week with the longest winning streak in the country at seven-straight after last weekend’s sweep of Maine at home. The Friars are ranked No. 11 in this week’s USCHO.com Top-20 poll and 12th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Top-15. Since returning from the holiday break, Providence has posted a 9-2-1 mark. Junior Brian Pinho leads the team in scoring with 26 points on seven goals and 19 assists. Sophomore Erik Foley and freshman Josh Wilkins are the team’s top goal scorers with 10 apiece. In net, sophomore Hayden Hawkey has played every minute for PC, posting a 2.20 goals against and a .911 save percentage.
LAST SEASON VS PROVIDENCE
The Huskies were swept by Providence last season, falling 4-0 on the road and 3-2 at home to then No. 5 ranked Friars. In game one, Rob Nichols posted 41 saves but the Friars scored three times in the first period en route to a 4-0 win at home in Schneider Arena. The Huskies were outshot 45-24 and were 0-for-6 on the power play. Providence got a pair of goals from sophomore Brian Pinho while freshman goaltender Hayden Hawkey pitched a shutout with a 24 save effort. Junior Kyle McKenzie and freshman Erik Foley each had a pair of assists in the win. The Friars put three goals on the board in the span of 5:16 in the first period. In game two, UConn got goals from Tage Thompson and Shawn Pauly but saw their comeback bid fall short in a 3-2 loss at home. The Friars got a pair of goals from senior John Gilmour to sweep the weekend Hockey East series. After a scoreless first period, Gilmour scored twice in the second to post the Friars to a 2-0 lead heading into the third. The Friars held the edge on the shot chart, 28-24, but could not convert on their four power play chances. UConn’s Rob Nichols turned away 25 shots in taking the loss.