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The UConn Huskies will take on former Atlantic Hockey foe and in-state rival Sacred Heart University Friday night in a neutral site game to be played at the Taft School in Watertown. The Huskies took three of a possible four points last week with a 1-0 win over then No. 3 ranked Boston College and a 4-4 tie on the road at then No. 5 Boston University. The Huskies garnered a vote in both the USCHO.com and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls this week. The Pioneers are 1-0-2 in their last three outings and are coming off a 3-2 win and 4-4 tie at home with Canisius last weekend.
UConn vs. Sacred Heart All-Time Series... The Huskies lead the all-time series, 29-26-5. The two teams split their four meetings last season. UConn posted a 4-2 win at home in the Freitas Ice Forum in November while Sacred Heart answered with a 3-0 shutout win in the UConn Hockey Classic at the XL Center in December. The two teams split on the final weekend of the regular season, UConn winning 4-3 in overtime and SHU posting a 2-1 win, both at the Milford Ice Pavilion. These two teams could meet again this season on the second day of the Frozen Holiday Classic at the Webster Bank Arena in December.
-The line of freshman Spencer Naas, junior Shawn Pauly and senior Trevor Gerling has been together for four games and has produced a team best 11 points (5g-6a-11p). The trio had nine points (4g-5a-9p) in Saturday’s 4-4 tie at Boston University.
-The Huskies are tops in the country at blocking shots, averaging 19.11 per game. Senior Jacob Poe has a team-high 22 blocks, first in Hockey East and tied for seventh in the nation.
-Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols posted his first shutout of the season and the third of his career beating BC, 1-0. Nichols sports a .932 save percentage, ranked third in Hockey East and 17th nationally.
-UConn entered last week’s games just 1-of-19 on the power play but put up three power play goals against BC and BU. The Huskies are now 4-for-31 with the extra skater (.129), sixth in Hockey East.
-The penalty killing unit is third in the league and tied for 13th in the nation, killing at a .892 percentage (33-37).
-The Huskies picked up the program’s fourth win over a ranked opponent with the win over Boston College. Three of those wins have come under the direction of second year head coach Mike Cavanaugh. During the last two season under Coach Cavanaugh, the Huskies are 3-3-1 against ranked opponents.
Scouting the Pioneers… The Sacred Heart Pioneers come in with a 3-5-2 record and are in third place in the Atlantic Hockey standings with eight points on the year. The Pioneers snapped a three-game skid with 2-2 tie at Holy Cross and then posted a 3-2 win and skated to a 4-4 tie against Canisius at home last weekend. SHU’s only other non-conference action this year was a pair of home loses to then No. 4 ranked Colgate at home, 5-2 and 4-2. The Pioneers are led by junior forward Zach Luczyk who is tied for sixth in the AHA rankings with 10 points on the year. Luczyk has four multi-point games on the year and has four goals on the season. Senior goaltenders Alex Vazzano and Andrew Bodnarchuk have split time between the pipes this season. Bodnarchuk has a 2.64 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.
Last Meeting with SHU... In last year’s final Atlantic Hockey weekend of the regular season, UConn traveled to instate conference rival Sacred Heart and split a pair of games with the Pioneers at the Milford Ice Pavilion. In game one, the Pioneers held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but couldn’t hold off the Huskies in the closing minutes. Senior Billy Latta provided the game-tying goal with 37 seconds left in the third period and then scored the game-winner on the power play with 42 seconds left in overtime for a 4-3 UConn win, clinching a bye for the first round of the playoffs. Freshman goaltender Robby Nichols made 26 saves to earn his eighth win of the season. In the regular season finale, goals by Evan Jasper and Drew George provided all the offense Sacred Heart would need in a 2-1 win over the Huskies. Jasper gave SHU a 1-0 lead just 3:20 into the first period and George made it 2-0 6:22 into the second. Freshman Brent Norris scored the lone Husky goal in the second period, his ninth of the season, but SHU goaltender Alex Vazzano held UConn in check the rest of the way. Vazzano finished the night making 25 saves to grab his second win over UConn on the season.
Last Time Out... The UConn tandem of senior Trevor Gerling and Shawn Pauly each scored two goals and dished out two assists as the Huskies skated to a 4-4 tie at No. 5 nationally ranked Boston University. BU wasted little time in scoring the game’s first goal, needing just 35 seconds to light the scoreboard. The Huskies answered back at the 3:43 mark, tying the game on Pauly’s first of the night and the season. UConn grabbed a 2-1 lead late in the second period, scoring on the power play when Gerling found a rebound at the left post to bang it home at 18:50. The Terriers struck quickly to start the third, tying the game at 2-2 just 39 seconds into the period. Jack Eichel carried the puck through the UConn zone and fed Brien Diffley in the right circle for a one-timer he buried top shelf. UConn swung the game back at the 9:00 minute mark on Gerling’s second of the night, taking a feed from Pauly on the right wing and walking in to slide a shot through the five-hole for a 3-2 lead. The lead was short lived as 30 seconds later BU junior Mike Moran batted a rebound out of the air and in tying the game at 3-3. BU’s Eichel set up the go-ahead goal at 15:43 as Danny O’Regan split a pair of defenders and took a pass for a breakaway. O’Regan went to his backhand to beat Nichols for his second goal of the night a 4-3 lead. UConn responded once again and notched the tying goal off the stick of Pauly on the power play, putting home a rebound at 16:46. In overtime, freshman Corey Ronan created a turnover along the right boards and got loose for a break-away, blasting a shot from just inside the right circle that Connor LaCouvee fought off and covered up for a face-off. The Terriers held a 34-26 edge on shots but were 0-for-3 on the power play. UConn finished the night 2-of-6 with the extra skater. Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols made 30 saves in net.