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The Huskies will take on the in-state rival Yale Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Liberty Hockey Invitational. Both the Huskies and Bulldogs played to ties during Friday’s action and advanced to the title game thanks to shootout victories. UConn and fellow Hockey East member Merrimack finished in a 2-2 tie in a non-league match-up Friday afternoon. The Huskies ends a seven-game road swing to open their season on Sunday, opening their home schedule at the XL Center on Wednesday. The Bulldogs skated to a 2-2 tie with Princeton in their season opener on Friday in what was also the 250th meeting between Yale and the Tigers.
UConn vs. Yale All-Time Series... The UConn and Yale series dates back to the 1971-72 season with the Bulldogs winning all 10 meetings in the all-time series. The two teams met on the ice for the first time on December 1, 1971, a 16-2 Yale win, and then didn’t face-off again until the 1999-2000 season. Yale beat the Huskies 3-2 in the UMass Lowell Tournament that season and the two teams would meet every season from 2002-03 through 2008-09. The last meeting took place on November 19, 2011, with the No. 9 nationally ranked Bulldogs posting a 5-3 win at home.
- The Huskies take on Yale for the first time since the 2011-12 season. With a win over Quinnipiac on the books and a scheduled meeting with Sacred Heart in two weeks, this is the first time since 2008-09 UConn will face the three other Connecticut Division I programs in the same season.
- Freshman Spencer Naas scored his second goal of the season and his team-leading fourth point in Friday’s tie. Fellow rookie Kasperi Ojantakanen picked-up his first collegiate goal. Six of the 11 UConn goals this season have been scored by freshmen.
- Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols has made 134 saves over the last four games (33.5 pg). Nichols turned away 38 shots on Friday against Merrimack.
- UConn was whistled for a season-high nine penalties on Friday vs. the Warriors. The Huskies season-high last season was eight penalties in a 3-2 win over Niagara at home. Last season, UConn was second to only AIC for the fewest penalties on the year.
Scouting the Bulldogs… The Yale Bulldogs played their season opener on Friday against conference foe Princeton, the 250th meeting between the two schools. The Bulldogs scored a power play goal for a 1-0 first period lead and erased a 2-1 Princeton lead with the tying goal at 7:19 in the third period to produce the 2-2 final. Ryan Hitchcock scored on the third and final attempt of the shootout to send Yale to the championship game. Yale entered the season returning 18 letterwinners to their line-up led by senior captain Tommy Fallen. In goal, sophomore Alex Lyon returns after earning Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors last season. Lyon posted a 2.42 goals against and a .918 save percentage. Yale finished last season 17-11-5 overall and advanced to the ECAC quarterfinals. Yale, the 2013 NCAA Champions, have played in the NCAA Tournament in four of the last six season, including three regional finals and the 2013 Frozen Four. The Bulldogs were picked fourth in the ECAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Last Meeting with Yale... The Huskies fell 5-3 to the No. 9 nationally ranked Yale Bulldogs on November 19, 2011 at Ingalls Rink in New Haven. The Huskies fell behind 3-0 heading into the third period but quickly cut the lead down to 3-2 with a pair of goals in the first 1:19 of play. Sophomore Cole Schneider scored just 54 seconds into the third period with classmate Jordan Sims making it 3-2 just 25 seconds later. The Bulldogs pushed it back to a two-goal lead on Kenny Agostino’s second goal of the game at 2:18 in the period. Sims pulled the Huskies back to within a goal at the 9:43 mark, scoring on the power play but that would be as close as UConn could come in their upset bid as Yale tacked on an empty net goal in the closing seconds. Husky goaltender Garrett Bartus made 44 saves on the night while Yale netminder Jeff Malcolm turned away 18 shots to grab the win.
Last Time Out... The UConn men’s hockey team got goals from freshmen Spencer Naas and Kasperi Ojantakanen and 38 saves from sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols on the way to a 2-2 tie with Merrimack College Friday in the opening game of the Liberty Hockey Invitational at the Prudential Center. The Huskies advanced to Sunday’s championship game thanks to a 2-0 shootout win. The Huskies held 1-0 and 2-1 leads against the Warriors but were plagued by penalties in allowing a pair of power play goals. UConn took a season-high nine penalties on the night as Merrimack finished two-of-eight on the power play. The Warriors out shot the Huskies 40-22 with 18 shots coming on the power play. After a scoreless overtime, the two teams went to a shootout to determine who would play for the tournament title on Sunday. The Huskies shot first with Evan Richardson getting stopped. Ojantakanen buried his attempt glove side and junior Shawn Pauly scored stick side to clinch the victory. Nichols turned away both shots he faced in the shootout.
Liberty Hockey Invitational...
- The Liberty Hockey Invitational is in its second year at the Prudential Center in Newark.
- This year’s event is the 250th meeting between Princeton University and Yale University’s men’s hockey programs.
- Last year’s inaugural event featured an all-Ivy League lineup of teams as Princeton, Yale, Brown and Dartmouth battled for the Liberty Trophy. Brown won the tournament with a 4-1 opening win over Yale and a 5-3 victory over Dartmouth to secure the trophy.