UConn travels to South Bend to open the Hockey East schedule with a weekend series against the No. 7/6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Huskies were swept by the Irish last season, falling 2-1 and 8-2. This will be the final meeting between the two schools as members of Hockey East as the Irish are set to depart the league for the BigTen in 2017-18.
For the third-straight week, the Huskies received votes in the USCHO.com Top-20 coaches’ poll and for the first time this season, received votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top-15 poll as well.
The Huskies are coming off a week were they fell at then No. 4/3 Quinnipiac, 5-2, and skated to a 2-2 tie with former Atlantic Hockey foe AIC. UConn is winless in their last four outings (0-1-3).
Defensively, the Huskies are allowing 2.00 goals per game, second in Hockey East and tied for seventh nationally, and own a pair of early season shutouts.
The UConn penalty killing unit has allowed just three power play goals (28/31) and rank fourth in the league and 12th nationally killing at a .903 percentage. The Huskies are one of just 12 teams with a .900 percentage or higher killing penalties this season.
Senior goaltender Rob Nichols has a 1.44 goals against, a .933 save percentage and a pair of shutouts over three games this season. He second in HEA and fourth in the nation in goals against.
Senior Evan Richardson is off to blazing start to the season with seven points through six games to lead the club. Richardson has scored four goals, one off his career total from his sophomore season. He has had three multi-point games through the first six.
Sophomore Tage Thompson is second on the team with six points on four goals and two assists. Three of Thompson’s four goals this season have come at even strength. Last season, he finished with 14 goals, 13 coming on the power play, a number that led the nation.
Sophomore Maxim Letunov will return to the line-up on Thursday after being forced to miss Friday’s game vs. AIC due to his disqualification penalty for boarding at Quinnipiac. Letunov leads the Huskies with five assists this season.
LAST MEETING WITH ND
The Fighting Irish swept the season series with UConn last fall, winning 2-1 at the XL Center and pounding the Huskies 8-2 at the Barclays Center. In game one, UConn got 28 saves from Rob Nichols but a Sam Herr third period goal sent the Irish home with a 2-1 win in Hartford. Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead 16 seconds into the second period but UConn would answer just over five minutes in. Miles Gendron scored his second on the season. Gendron knocked in a rebound of a Shawn Pauly shot to knot the game at 1-1. Herr provided the game-winner at 12:36 in the third. ND held a 30-15 edge in the shot department with Cal Peterson making 14 stops for the win. In the re-match in Brooklyn, the Fighting Irish had eight different players score in the win while Petersen made 19 saves to pick-up both wins on the weekend. The Irish held a 37-21 edge on shots.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING IRISH
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are coming off a pair of overtime games at home with Penn State last weekend. The Irish got a 3-3 tie in game one but were beating in the extra session in game two, 3-2. ND came in ranked sixth in this week’s USA Today/USA Hockey top-15 poll and seventh in the USCHO.com top-20 rankings. Junior Anders Bjork is currently leading Hockey East in scoring with 11 points, coming on five goals and six assists. Sophomore Andrew Oglevie leads the league in power play scoring, posting eight points (3g/5a) in the early going. Defensively, the Irish have two of the top scoring blue liners in the league in junior Jordan Gross and sophomore Bobby Nardella. Gross has eight points (3g/5a) while Nardella has five points (2g/3a) on the season. The Fighting Irish special teams have been solid early on with their power play (.226) and penalty kill (.917) both ranking second in the league.