Ice Chips …
The UConn Huskies will close out the regular season on Thursday night hosting the UMass Minutemen at the XL Center. UConn and UMass have split their two previous meetings this season, each winning on home ice. The game will be available on ESPN3.
The Huskies are riding a seven-game winning streak into Thursday night’s match-up, tied for the longest winning streak in school history (1998-99, 1999-00). During this streak, the Huskies are averaging 3.88 goals per game while allowing 2.62 per game.
The Huskies have knocked off four ranked opponents (No. 20 BU, No. 11 Northeastern, No. 16 Boston College, No. 10 Providence) during the streak. UConn did receive a vote in this week’s USCHO.com Top-20 national poll.
UConn enters the final weekend of the regular season tied with Maine for fifth place, both with 23 points, two points behind Boston University in fourth. The Huskies can finish as high as fourth and as low as seventh.
The 11 conference wins this season mark a program best since joining the league in 2014-15, and regardless of where the Huskies finish in the final standings, it will be their best finish in their four years in the league.
Four Huskies are riding point streaks into Thursday’s match-up with UMass. Senior Spencer Naas leads the way, having recorded a point in every game of the seven-game win streak, a career-best point streak. Naas is coming off a two-goal night against BU and has had 10 points (5g/5a) over the last seven. He is second on the club with 21 points (11g/10a) and his 48 career goals is ranked fourth in the UConn Division I record book.
Sophomore Benjamin Freeman has recorded a point in a career-best six-straight games, posting a pair of goals and six assists over that stretch. He is has 20 points on the season, seven goals and 13 assists, and is a +6 on the year, all career-best marks.
Junior Maxim Letunov has scored a goal in four-straight games after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to beat BU last Friday night. Letunov had a three-point night on Friday and leads the Huskies with 27 points on 11 goals and 16 assists. He has 94 career points in 102 career games.
Senior Kasperi Ojantakanen carries a career-best five-game point streak into the regular season finale, scoring a goal with four assists during that stretch.
Senior goaltender Tanner Creel has started the last eight games and is 7-1 over that stretch with a .913 save percentage and a 2.62 goal against average.
UConn’s power play has scored 28 goals and ranks third in Hockey East at .203 percent (28-138). The penalty kill is third in Hockey East, killing at a .830 percentage (117-141) and has scored six shorthanded goals, tied for the most in the league.
This Season vs. UMass ...
December 1, 2017
The University of Massachusetts used a three-goal rally late in the second period to erase a UConn first period lead and deal the Huskies a 4-2 loss at the Mullins Center. UConn got a pair of first period power play goals from sophomores Alexander Payusov and Benjamin Freeman to lead 2-1 after the first period. UMass’ lone first period goal came off the stick of Josh Couoturier. The Minutemen titled the ice in the second period with an 18-5 edge on shots and took control late in the period putting together a three-goal run over a span of 1:18 to go up 4-2. Goals by George Mika, Jack Suter and Mitchell Chaffee fueled the second period charge for the Minutemen. The Huskies held the shot edge in the third, 11-6, and pulled goaltender Adam Huska with just over three minutes to play in the period but couldn’t crack sophomore Ryan Wischow who finished with 25 saves. Adam Huska stopped 27 shots in taking the loss.
December 5, 2017
UConn got goals from six different Huskies on the way to an 8-2 rout of the Massachusetts Minutemen at the XL Center. Senior Jeff Wight and sophomore Benjamin Freeman each scored a pair to lead the UConn Huskies in the lopsided win. UConn built a 3-0 lead in the first on Wight’s two goals and a sophomore Alexander Payusov power play goal. Freshman Brian Rigali scored his first collegiate goal in the opening seconds of the second period followed by Freeman’s pair to make it 6-0 after two. Junior Maxim Letunov and senior Spencer Naas added third period goals to put the stamp on the Huskies highest goal total since an 8-1 win at AIC in November of 2013. UMass tacked on goals by Brett Boeing and Austin Plevy in the third while the Minutemen out shot UConn, 29-22. UConn sophomore goaltender Adam Huska made 26 saves in earning the win.
Scouting the Minutemen ...
The Minutemen enter the final weekend of the regular season with a 7-13-2 conference mark, leaving them ninth in the Hockey East standings. After dropping six-straight, the Minutemen are 2-1-1 over the last two weeks but coming off a 5-2 loss at home to Boston College a week ago. The UMass offense is paced by five freshmen atop the stat sheet, headed by rookie John Leonard who has 23 points on 10 goals and 13 assists. Leonard is fourth among Hockey East rookies in scoring. Classmate Mitchell Chaffee is the team’s top-goal scorer with 12 on the year, second among Hockey East freshmen goal scorers. Freshman goaltender Matt Murray has played in 20 games this season and owns a 2.90 goals against with a .908 save percentage. He has posted three shutouts this season.
Last Time Out ...
UConn junior Maxim Letunov scored the game-winner 2:51 into overtime to cap a furious third period comeback to beat No. 20 nationally ranked Boston University, 5-4, last Friday night in front of 7,372 at the XL Center. The Huskies win their seventh-straight game, tying the school record for longest winning streak, set twice before (1998-99, 1999-00). UConn twice battle back from being down a pair of goals, 3-1 in the second period and 4-2 in the third, to earn their first overtime victory at the XL Center and also their second win this season when trailing heading into the final period. Letunov finished the night with a goal and two assists while senior Spencer Naas scored twice in the win, extending this point streak to seven-straight games. Trailing 4-2 in the third, senior Kasperi Ojantakanen got a deflection for a goal followed by a power play score by sophomore Alexander Payusov to tie the game, setting up Letunov’s game-winner. Payusov finished the night with a goal and an assist while classmate Benjamin Freeman added a pair of assists. BU’s Bobo Carpenter finished with a goal and assist of the Terriers. Chad Krys, Ty Amonte and Brien Diffley had the other BU goals. UConn senior goaltender Tanner Creel made 27 saves to garner his seventh win on the year.
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