The UConn Huskies will play host to the No. 11/10 nationally ranked Vermont Catamounts for the first of two games this weekend at the XL Center. The Huskies turn around and host the No. 3/2 ranked Boston University Terriers on Saturday afternoon at 3:35 pm. UConn is coming off their fourth tie of the season, skating to a 1-1 stalemate with ECAC leader Rensselaer on Tuesday night. Vermont comes to town atop the Hockey East standings with a 5-2-1 league mark. The Catamounts split a weekend series at Providence last week, dropping the opener 3-0 but rebounding in game two for a 2-1 win.
UConn vs. Vermont All-Time Series... Vermont leads the all-time series, 17-1-1 after dealing UConn a 2-1 loss back on October 21st this season. Prior to the first meeting this year, the Huskies and Catamounts had met just twice since UConn joined the Division I ranks in 1998-99. Those two meetings both went to overtime as UConn skated to a 2-2 tie with Vermont in 2001-02 and the Catamounts tripped up the Huskies, 4-3, in 2003-04. The series dates all the way back to the 1963-64 season. The only UConn win in the series came during the 1964-65 campaign, 10-5.
- The UConn offense continues to search for goals in the early stages of the season. The Huskies are averaging 1.64 goals per game, last in Hockey East and ranked 53rd in the NCAA. The Huskies have scored two goals or fewer in nine of the 11 games this year.
- Junior Joey Ferriss scored his first goal of the season in Tuesday’s 1-1 result vs. RPI. Ferriss is the 11th different Husky to find the back of the net this season. Only one Husky has more than two goals on the year in senior Trevor Gerling who has netted four.
- The Huskies play a pair of ranked teams this weekend. UConn is 2-1-2 against nationally ranked opponents this season and are 3-3-1 the last two seasons under head coach Mike Cavanaugh.
- The Huskies are tops in the country at blocking shots, averaging 18.1 per game. Senior Jacob Poe and freshman Derek Pratt share the team lead with 25 blocks (2.50 pg), first in Hockey East and tied for ninth in the nation.
- Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols is ranked third in Hockey East and 12th nationally in save percentage (.936). His 2.02 goals against average puts him fifth among league leaders and 19th in the country.
Scouting the Catamounts… The Vermont Catamounts came in at #11 in this week’s USCHO.com Top-20 poll and #10 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Top-15 poll. The Catamounts are 7-2-1 overall on the year and are in first place in Hockey East with 11 points. Vermont’s two losses have come in conference play, falling at Notre Dame, 3-2, and losing 3-0 at Providence last weekend. The Catamounts have been very strong in goal this season with junior Brody Hoffman and sophomore Mike Santaguida ranking among the nation’s leaders in goals against average and save percentage. Brody has won five of his seven starts this season and sports a 1.96 goals against, 12th in the nation, and a .918 save percentage. Santaguida has made four starts and owns a 1.15 goals against, third stingiest in the country, with a .957 save percentage, fourth among NCAA leaders. The duo have helped Vermont to the stingiest defense in the league, allowing just 1.70 goals per game, tied for fifth nationally. Offensively, senior Mike Paliotta and sophomore Mario Puskarich lead the Catamounts with nine points apiece. Paliotta ranks third among the league’s defensemen in scoring with two goals and seven assists. Puskarich and junior Jonathan Turk share the team lead with four goals scored on the year.
Last Meeting with Vermont... The Huskies lost a 2-1 defensive battle with then No. 17 nationally ranked Vermont at Gutterson Field House in October. Junior goaltender Brody Hoffman made 21 saves in the win. The Huskies outshot an opponent for the first time this season, finishing with a 22-21 edge on shots. Vermont got their first power play opportunity in the closing seconds of the first and opened the second period scoring with the extra skater as Alexx Privitera made it 1-0 just 53 seconds in. UConn got 10 shots on net in the second but couldn’t crack Hoffman while also going 0-2 on the power play during the period. UVM made it 2-0 at the 6:20 mark of the third as Colin Markison fired a shot from the left circle that was deflected. The puck trickled behind Nichols where Mike Stenerson charged in to clean it up for a 2-0 Catamount lead. The Huskies cut the lead in half at 12:54 as senior Trevor Gerling buried a one-timer from the left circle off a feed from Evan Richardson. UConn pulled goaltender Rob Nichols with 1:09 left for the extra skater, looking for the tying goal. Freshman Kasperi Ojantakanen got a shot on net but that was all the Huskies could muster before the final horn. The Catamounts killed off all three Husky power plays and went 1-for-4 with the extra skater.
Last Time Out... UConn junior Joey Ferriss scored his first goal of the season as the Huskies and Rensselaer Engineers skated to a 1-1 tie Tuesday night at the XL Center. RPI got a 33 save night from senior goaltender Scott Diebold who stopped 13 UConn shots in the third period to help preserve the draw. RPI’s Drew Melanson scored the lone Engineer goal, his first of the season, in the closing seconds of the second period. The Huskies killed off a first period RPI power play, running their streak to 16-straight kills dating back five games. Ferriss opened the scoring, putting the Huskies on the board at 2:57 of the second period. Freshman David Drake fed the puck to Ferriss and he turned on the jets to beat a defender to the front of the net, depositing the puck past Diebold, glove side for a 1-0 lead. RPI found the equalizing goal with just 2.3 seconds on the clock in the second period, scoring on a Melanson one-timer. Matt Neal collected the puck on the left wing and fired a pass to Melanson who was waiting at the left post, one-timing a shot past Rob Nichols for his first on the year. The Huskies played their strongest hockey of the night in the third period, getting off 13 shots while forcing Nichols to make just four saves. After holding the Huskies off in the third, the Engineers turned the tables in overtime and rang up seven shots on goal, keeping the Huskies buried in their zone for stretches. Nichols was up to the task and finished the night with 24 stops to preserve the tie. The Huskies finished with a season-high 34 shots on goal while holding RPI to 25.