UConn hits the road to visit a pair of former Atlantic Hockey Association foes in AIC and Sacred Heart this weekend. The Huskies are coming off a season-opening Hockey East split at Maine last week. The Black Bears grabbed a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night but UConn hit back with a 5-1 win on Saturday.
The Huskies were 0-1-2 last season against teams from their former conference, falling at home to Sacred Heart, 4-2, and tying AIC at home, 2-2, and RIT on the road, 1-1.
UConn is 1-4-2 against teams from Atlantic Hockey since leaving the conference in 2014-15 for Hockey East. The Huskies were an inaugural member of the league, playing 11 seasons in Atlantic Hockey. UConn plays three teams from the AHA this season, this weekend’s set and a home game with RIT in November.
In last weekend’s split with Maine, the eight different Huskies scored goals. UConn’s top-two lines produced 11 points on the weekend. The top-line of juniors Karl El-Mir and Maxim Letunov and sophomore Alexander Payusov had three goals and three assists. The line of seniors Spencer Naas and Kasperi Ojantakanen and sophomore Benjamin Freeman finished with two goals and three assists.
The UConn special teams finished with three power play goals and added a shorthanded goal off the stick of senior Corey Ronan, his fourth career shorty.
Senior Jeff Wight returned to the Husky lineup after missing all but two games last season with injury. Wight had a big weekend with a goal and two assists in his return to the ice.
Sophomore goaltender Adam Huska made 38 saves in Saturday’s 5-1 win. Huska was named to the 2018 Mike Richter Award Watch List last week. The award annually honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA Division I hockey.
UConn will carry a 19-game unbeaten streak (15-0-4) against AIC into Friday night’s match. The streak dates back to the 2007-08 season.
The Huskies have dropped four-straight to Sacred Heart and five of their last six meetings.
UConn is 4-3-0 all-time when playing at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena. This will be UConn’s third meeting with SHU at the arena (W, 4-0/2012-13; L, 2-1/2010-11). The Huskies have played at least one game at the arena in each of the last three season and posted a 6-3 win over Maine there last year.
Last Meeting vs. AIC (Oct. 21, 2016)
AIC goaltender Zackarias Skog had 36 saves as the Yellow Jackets and Huskies skated to a 2-2 tie. The Huskies dominated the shot chart, 38-18, but struggled on the power play going just 1-of-9. Evan Richardson opened up the scoring at 9:14 in the first wih a power play goal while AIC answered late in the period. The Huskies answered back at 19:19 of the first as Karl El-Mir buried a shot off a feed from Richardson. AIC scored on a power play at 15:08 in the second period to tie the game and Skog made it hold up, keeping UConn off the board over the final 40 minutes. AIC got a power play 3:16 into overtime but with a pair of saves from the UConn goaltender Rob Nichols, the Huskies were able to preserve the tie. The Huskies ran their unbeaten streak against AIC to 19-straight (15-0-4), dating back to the 2007-08 season.
Scouting the Yellow Jackets
American International picked-up a 3-3 tie at home against Bentley on Tuesday night, after losing a pair to Army West Point this past weekend. The Yellow Jackets are picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic Hockey preseason poll. AIC has their top four scorers returning this season, Blake Christensen, Dominik Florian, Hugo Reinhardt and Martin Mellberg. The Yellow Jackets have gone to Skog in goal in all three games this season. He led the team with a 3.06 goals against average and a .905 save percentage last season.
Last Meeting vs. SHU (Nov. 26, 2016)
After building a 2-0 first period lead, the Huskies gave up four-straight goals to the Pioneers on the way to a 4-2 loss at home last season. The Huskies got a shorthanded goal from Corey Ronan and a Tage Thompson goal in the first but were kept off the scoreboard over the final 40 minutes with 32 saves by Brett Magnus. SHU’s Jordan Minello cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period and then started a three-goal third for the Pioneers. Austin McIlmurray made it 3-2 SHU and Justin Danforth capped the win with a power play goal midway through the period. UConn goaltender Rob Nichols made 28 saves in taking the loss to SHU.
Scouting the Pioneers
The Pioneers are coming off a season opening weekend where they lost a pair at Northeastern. The Pioneers open their season with three games against Hockey East schools and two at Notre Dame, a former member. Sacred Heart was picked 10th in the Atlantic Hockey preseason poll for the 2017-18 season. The Pioneers top-returning scorer from last season is junior defenseman Liam Clare who posted 22 points (1g/22a) last season. Goaltender Brett Magnus returns in goal after posting a 2.99 goals against average last season.
Last Time Out
The Huskies salvaged a weekend split after a 4-3 overtime loss opening night thanks to a 5-1 win on Saturday at Maine in a season-opening Hockey East series. On Friday night, the Huskies were down 2-1 after the first and 3-2 after the second. In a 6-on-4 power play late in the third, senior Jeff Wight scored off a rebound with 15.9 seconds left to force overtime. Maine’s Nolan Vesey came-up with the game-winner just 28 seconds into overtime giving Maine a 4-3 win. Sophomore Adam Huska made 29 saves in the loss while senior Kasperi Ojantakanen and sophomore Benjamin Freeman each scored a goal and had an assist. On Saturday, Derek Pratt, Karl El-Mir, Alexander Payusov, Maxim Letunov and Corey Ronan each put one in the net to give UConn a 5-1 win over the Black Bears. The Huskies had one shorthanded goal and scored twice on the power play. The Black Bears were scoreless until 1:12 into the third when Brendan Robins buried a wrist shot from the slot in the top-shelf. The Huskies quickly answered back 26 seconds later on Ronan’s shorty to move their lead back to three en route to the win.