The UConn Huskies close out the regular season on Friday night playing host to the UMass Minutemen at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies are looking to snap a four-game losing skid after getting swept in a home-and-home series with New Hampshire last weekend. The Huskies sit in 10th place in the Hockey East standings and could finish as high as eighth or as low as 11th depending on the weekend's results. UMass is currently in 12th place and coming off a split with Providence last week.
UConn vs. UMass All-Time Series... The UMass Minutemen lead the all-time series, 26-10-2. UConn took the first-ever Hockey East meeting between the two schools, winning 4-3 back on January 2nd in Amherst. Since the Huskies made the transition to Division I hockey in 1998-99, the Huskies are 3-10-1 against their Minutemen.
- The Huskies are 1-5-2 in the month of February and have lost four-straight for the first time under head coach Mike Cavanaugh and first time since the 2010-11 season. UConn has been outscored 24-3 during the four-game slide. The Huskies have been outscored 38-9 in the month of February.
- Sophomore Rob Nichols is second in the nation with 953 saves. That total ranks third all-time and during the Division I era (1998-present) in the UConn record book for single season saves. He can become just the third goalie in UConn history to reach 1000 saves in a season.
- Freshman Spencer Naas leads the team with 12 goals on the year. Naas leads Hockey East and is tied for sixth in the country with five game-winning goals. The Huskies are 7-2-2 on the season when Naas finds the back of the net. His 12 goals are two away from tying the UConn Division I record for rookie goals scored set by Andrew Olson (2007-08).
Scouting the Minutemen... The UMass Minutemen enter their final game of the regular season in 12th place in the Hockey East standings with a 5-15-1 mark but can move up to the 11th spot with a win and a pair of Merrimack losses at New Hampshire this weekend. The Minutemen are coming off split with Providence last weekend, losing on the road, 3-2, in overtime on Friday night and rebounding for a 2-1 overtime win at home on Saturday. Freshman Dennis Kravcheko is the team's leading scorer and ranks second among league rookies with 30 points (10g-20a) on the season. Sophomore Frank Vatrano has a team-best 17 goals, tied for fourth in Hockey East. UMass is in the middle of the pack in the league in scoring, averaging 2.88 goals per game but are last in the league allowing 4.16 goals per night. The Minutemen also come in as the most penalized team in the league, averaging 13.5 penalty minutes per game.
Last Meeting with UMass... UConn freshman Spencer Naas scored the game-winning goal at 13:55 of the third period as the Huskies came away with a 4-3 win at UMass back on January 2nd. Naas and senior Trevor Gerling each scored a pair of goals while sophomore Rob Nichols posted 33 saves in net for the Huskies. The Huskies held a 39-36 edge on shots and finished one-for-three on the power play. UConn twice had two-goal leads in the game but the Minutemen battled back and tied the game at 3-3 at 9:01 in the third period, scoring 51 seconds into their fifth power play chance of the night. Naas gave UConn the lead back for good at 13:55, scoring his third game-winning goal of the season. The Minutemen got one more power play opportunity late at 18:04, and were able to pull the goaltender to create a six-on-four advantage. The Husky penalty kill was up to the challenge, twice clearing pucks in the closing seconds to preserve the win.
Last Time Out... New Hampshire senior Matt Willows scored a pair of goals and added an assist to lead the Wildcats to a 5-1 win and weekend sweep of the Huskies on Saturday night at the Whittemore. UConn senior Trevor Gerling scored the Huskies lone goal while sophomore Rob Nichols made 39 saves in net. The Huskies were outshot 44-25 in the loss with both teams finishing 0-for-2 on the power play. UNH led 1-0 after the first period and grabbed a 2-0 lead at 9:12 in the second. The Huskies got on the scoreboard late in second on Gerling's goal but the momentum shift was short lived as the Wildcats answered just 42 seconds later. UNH put the game away in the third period as Willows scored twice while the Wildcats outshot the Huskies 13-7 in the final stanza.
HEA Playoff Push...
- UConn enters the regular season finale in 10th place in the Hockey East standings with 16 points.
- The Huskies are one point behind New Hampshire in ninth and two points back of Maine in eighth.
- UConn holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Maine (1-0-1) but does not hold the tiebreaker with UNH (0-2-0).
- The Huskies can finish as high as eighth and as low as 11th in the final standings.
- If the Huskies win on Friday night, they will need Providence to sweep Maine and Merrimack to sweep New Hampshire in order to finish in the eighth spot and earn a home playoff series.
- The top-four teams at the end of the regular season will earn a bye in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.
- Teams in the No. 5 through No. 8 spots will host first round best-of-three series against the bottom four teams.
- The first round of the playoffs is scheduled for Friday to Sunday, March 6th-8th.
- The tiebreakers for playoff seeding are:
1. Head-to-head results between the tied teams
2. Number of wins in conference play
3. Best record against the first-place team(s), then the second-place team(s), then the third-place team(s), and so on
4. Coin flip
The Huskies will recognize their six graduating seniors along with student assistant coach Bobby Segin before the game.
- #1 Tom Comunale, G, Seven Fields, Pa.- 3 GP, 4.85 GAA, .850 Sv%, 1-0-0
- #5 Jacob Poe, D, Arlington, Texas - 138 GP, 9g-39a-48p
- #15 Brad Smith, F, Trenton, Mich. - 64 GP, 5g-4a-9p
- #17 Ryan Tyson (C), F, Harleysville, Pa. - 120 GP, 9g-15a-24p
- #18 Trevor Gerling (A), F, Seattle, Wash. - 121 GP, 32g-30a-62p
- #27 Cody Sharib, F, Needham, Mass. - 129 GP, 24g-22a-46p