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The Huskies open a weekend home-and-home Hockey East series with Northeastern Friday night at the XL Center. UConn is looking to snap a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) while picking up their first win in the month of February.
UConn enters the weekend in ninth place in the league standings with four games left to play in the regular season. The Huskies have 16 points and are a point back of seventh place four points out of sixth. Northeastern comes in to the series in 10th place, one point back of UConn.
The Huskies are looking to bounce back from a sweep at the hands of Providence last week. In last Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Friars, senior goaltender Rob Nichols made 48 saves while graduate student Brian Morgan scored a pair for the Huskies. UConn allowed a season-high 52 shots and were outshot 52-18.
Morgan’s two-goal night ties his career high, set when he played for Maine against Boston University on Nov. 15, 2013. Morgan ended a streak of eight-straight games without a goal. UConn’s other goal came off the stick of junior Spencer Naas, who set a new career-high with his 14th goal on the season, eclipsing his career-best mark set during his freshman season.
Nichols’ 48 saves eclipsed his previous career mark of 46 stops, set earlier this season in a 3-3 tie at Ohio State. Nichols also picked-up his second career assist in the loss, getting the secondary on Naas’ second period tally. His first career assist came on an empty net Jesse Schwartz goal late in a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac in 2014-15.
Sophomore Tage Thompson had a pair of assists in the loss, raising his season point total to a team-high 29 (17g/12a). It was Thompson 17th career multi-point game and his ninth this season.
Thompson has scored 17 goals and is tied for seventh in Hockey East and tied for 13th in the nation. Thompson hasn’t found the back of the net in his last five games. 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.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
The Northeastern Huskies come in at 6-9-3 in Hockey East, sitting 10th in the league standings. The Huskies have won six of their last eight and are coming in off a 4-2 win over Boston College in the consolation game of the Beanpot Monday night. The Northeastern offensive attack is led by the nation’s leading scorer in senior Zach Aston-Reese who has 52 points on 24 goals and 28 assists. His 24 goals also leads the country. The Huskies feature two other scorers with 40-plus points in junior Dylan Sikura and Adam Gaudette, who have 49 points (19g/30a) and 45 points (21g/24a) respectively. The Huskies are the top scoring team in Hockey East at 3.70 goals per night and are tied for second in the conference and in the country on the power play. Northeastern is converting at a .273 percentage, with their 45 power play goals leading the nation.
LAST SEASON VS NORTHEASTERN
Northeastern swept UConn last season, winning 5-2 in the XL Center and 4-1 at home. In game one, UConn was outshot 49-18 as Northeastern’s Kevin Roy scored a pair of goals to lead NU. UConn got goals from Tage Thompson and Joseph Masonius, both coming on the power play, in the loss. Maxim Letunov assisted on both goals and in the process set the new UConn Division I rookie scoring mark. The Huskies struck first opening a 1-0 lead on Thompson’s tally at 2:56. From there Northeastern scored four-straight in the first to grab control of the game. Goaltender Tanner Creel relieved Rob Nichols in the first and went on to make 28 saves in the loss. In the rematch in Boston, UConn senior Patrick Kirtland scored the lone Husky goal while Nichols made 29 saves in net in taking the 4-1 loss. Northeastern got a five-minute power play in the second period and took advantage putting two on the board from Garret Cockerill and Nolan Stevens. Kirtland delivered on the power play late in the second but Northeastern put the clamps on defensively in the third while tacking on two more to sweep the weekend. Goaltender Ryan Ruck made 23 saves to earn the win.
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