UConn will close out the regular season facing New Hampshire in a Hockey East home-and-home series starting Friday night at the Whittemore Center. The two teams will hit the ice Saturday night in Hartford at the XL Center for “Senior Night” as the Huskies honor their three departing seniors in grad student Brian Morgan and seniors Rob Nichols and Evan Richardson.
The Huskies head into the final weekend in 10th place with a 6-10-4 conference mark and 16 points. UConn can finish as high as seventh or as low as 10th in the final standings. In order to have a chance to finish seventh or eighth and host an opening round playoff series, the Huskies will have to sweep UNH and get help.
UConn is coming into the weekend looking to end a four-game losing streak and a six-game winless streak, both their longest of the season. The Huskies were swept by Northeastern last weekend, being shutout at home 3-0 and falling on the road, 4-1.
Friday night’s shutout loss at the hands of Northeastern was the first shutout at home in the XL Center since a 2-0 loss to Army on November 10, 2015. The Huskies only other shutout loss this year came against Maine, 4-0, at Frozen Fenway.
In Saturday’s loss, sophomore Max Letunov scored the Huskies lone goal, his seventh of the season ending a five-game drought. His last goal came in a 5-4 loss at Vermont on January 20th. On the season, he is second on the team with 25 points (7g/18a).
Senior Evan Richardson picked-up an assist on Letunov’s goal and has hit the 20-point mark for the season (5g/15a). His 20 points and 15 assists are career high marks.
Sophomore Tage Thompson has scored 17 goals and is tied for eighth in Hockey East and tied for 18th in the nation. Thompson hasn’t found the back of the net in his last seven 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.
The UConn goaltending tandem of senior Rob Nichols and freshman Adam Huska continues to be steady. Nichols is eighth in Hockey East with a 2.63 goals against while Huska’s 2.72 mark is ninth. Huska owns a .920 save percentage, fourth among league leaders, while Nichols is seventh at .914.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
The New Hampshire Wildcats enter the final weekend in ninth place with a 7-9-4 Hockey East record. The Wildcats are coming off an 0-1-1 weekend against Boston University and have won just once in their last 11 games (1-7-3). UNH senior Tyler Kelleher leads the nation in scoring with 57 points on the year. He has scored 20 goals and dished 37 assists, a number that also leads the nation. Junior Jason Salvaggio has also scored 20 goals this season. Senior Matias Cleland is the top-scoring defenseman in the nation with 32 points (2g/30a). The Wildcat offense averages 3.25 goals per game, tied for fourth in the conference, while their power play is ranked third at 22.8 percent (36-158). Kelleher has 28 power play points on 10 goals and 18 assists. In goal, junior Daniel Tirone has made 30 starts with a 2.98 goals against and a .907 save percentage.
LAST SEASON VS UNH
UConn swept the season series with New Hampshire last season, winning 4-1 at home and pulling off a 5-4 comeback win in overtime at the Whittemore Center in the regular season finale. In game one, the Huskies won the special teams battle as a Corey Ronan short-handed goal followed by a Shawn Pauly power play tally gave UConn a 2-0 first period lead. UNH cut the lead to 2-1 but the Huskies put it away in the third as Maxim Letunov pushed the lead back to two midway through the period and Joseph Masonius iced the win with an empty netter. Rob Nichols turned in 36 saves for the win. In game two, Ronan scored at 3:08 in overtime as the Huskies scored four-straight goals to come back and beat New Hampshire 5-4. The Huskies trailed 4-1 heading into the third period and rallied for three-straight to force overtime where Ronan won it for the weekend sweep. Senior Joey Ferriss scored twice in the third period to help fuel the comeback. UNH scored twice on the power play in the first period and took and 3-0 lead early in the second period. UConn’s Tage Thompson got the Huskies on the board with a power play goal midway through the second. Down 4-1 to start the third, Ferriss got the comeback started with his first just 2:40 in. Spencer Naas connected on the power play at 10:26 before Ferriss tied it with 1:03 left. Rob Nichols stopped 35 shots to grab the win in goal.
HOCKEY EAST PLAYOFFS - Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Huskies can finish as high as seventh or as low as 10th in the final standings.
In order to have a chance to finish 7th or 8th and host a first round playoff series, the Huskies will need to sweep New Hampshire and get help.
- If UConn goes 2-0-0 and BOTH Merrimack and Northeastern go 0-2-0, the Huskies would be the seven seed.
- If UConn goes 2-0-0 and EITHER Merrimack or Northeastern go 0-2-0, the Huskies would be the eight seed.
- Any scenario where BOTH Merrimack and Northeastern get at least one point this weekend, the Huskies will be either the nine or 10 seed.
- If UConn finished the weekend with three points, the Huskies will be the nine seed.
- If UConn loses on Friday night or finishes the weekend with two or fewer points, the Huskies will be locked in to the 10 seed.
SENIOR NIGHT - The Huskies will honor their three departing seniors before Saturday’s final home game at the XL Center.
- Goaltender Rob Nichols is the longest tenured Husky on the roster and has played in 92 games over his four years. He owns a career 2.67 goals against average and a career .918 save percentage. He has posted 30 wins in his career and has 10 shutouts. He has made 2,644 career saves, ranking fourth in the UConn all-time records. His career goals against average is ranked second all-time at UConn. He became the first goaltender in school history to record back-to-back shutouts when he beat Arizona State and Maine his junior season, then did it again in the season opening sweep of Alabama Huntsville this year. He has been named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week three times this season.
- Evan Richardson has played in 88 games at UConn since transferring in for his sophomore season. He has scored 13 goals with 26 assists for 39 career points. This season, he has posted career-highs with five goals, 15 assists and 20 points. He scored one of the biggest goals in UConn history when he provided the game-winner in the Huskies 1-0 upset of then No. 3 ranked Boston College for the program’s first Hockey East win.
- Brian Morgan transferred to UConn as a grad student this season after spending the past three years at Maine. Morgan has been a mainstay in the UConn lineup, playing in all 32 games while scoring six goals with six assists for 12 points. In his four years of college hockey, Morgan played in 135 career games with 44 points coming on 23 goals and 21 assists.