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The Huskies will take on the No. 4/3 ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks in a home-and-home Hockey East series this weekend. UConn swept UMass Lowell in the season-series last year.
UConn dropped two-straight last week at home, falling to Boston College, 5-2, and to Sacred Heart, 4-2. The Huskies finished November 1-4-2 overall.
The Huskies will face their sixth nationally ranked opponent this season taking on the River Hawks and their fourth opponent ranked in the top-five. UConn is 2-5-1 against ranked opponents this season.
Both UConn freshman goaltender Adam Huska and UMass Lowell freshman goaltender Tyler Wall are New York Ranger draft picks and prospects. Huska was a seventh round choice in the 2015 NHL draft while Wall was taken in the sixth round in the 2016 draft.
Huska has started seven games and has a 2.94 goals against and a .918 save percentage, ranking sixth in the league.
Senior Rob Nichols has played in eight games this season with a 2.56 goals against and a .911 save percentage. He ranks eighth in the league in goals against average.
Junior Corey Ronan scored his second goal of the season in the loss to Sacred Heart. Ronan’s short-handed goal was the first by a Husky this season and it was his third career short-handed goal. He has had a point in three-straight games (2-1-3).
Sophomore Tage Thompson scored his team-leading eighth goal and his 16th point on the year in the loss to Sacred Heart. Thompson also leads the team in power play points with four goals and five assists.
The UConn power play ranks fifth in Hockey East converting at 17.8 percent (13-73). The Huskies rank 25th nationally. The penalty kill ranks fourth in Hockey East and 15th nationally, killing at an 86.7 percentage (65-75).
After a streak of eight-straight games with a power play goal, the Huskies have not posted an extra skater goal in three-straight games, a 0-for-13 stretch.
SCOUTING THE RIVER HAWKS
UMass Lowell comes into the weekend ranked fourth in the USCHO.com top-20 poll and third in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 poll with an 8-4-2 record. The River Hawks currently sit third in the Hockey East standings with a 4-2-0 record and eight points. Senior Joe Gambardella and junior C.J. Smith are among the league leaders in scoring. Gambardella has 19 points on seven goals and 12 assists, ranking sixth in the league. Smith has 17 points and is third in the league with nine goals. Freshman goaltender Tyler Wall has a 2.09 goals against average and a .921 save percentage, ranking third and fourth, respectively, in Hockey East. The River Hawks sport the league’s best power play at 22.7 percent (17-75), ranking ninth in the nation. They come into the week averaging 3.43 goals per game, tied for third in the league.
LAST SEASON VS. UMASS LOWELL
The Huskies swept the season series last year with UMass Lowell, beating the then No. 5 nationally ranked River Hawks 4-3 at home and 2-1 on the road. In game one in Hartford, Tage Thompson scored a pair of power play goals to lead the Huskies to a 4-3 win that ended an eight-game losing skid. UConn’s Rob Nichols made 27 saves while Kevin Boyle made 20 saves for UMass Lowell. The River Hawks finished with a 30-24 edge on shots. The Huskies carried a 3-2 lead into the third period but UML’s Ryan Collins tied it up just 47 seconds in to the final period. UConn’s Thompson provided the game-winner at 12:38, scoring his second power play goal. In the rematch in Lowell, Nichols stopped 30 shots and Thompson added another power play goal to lead the Huskies to the weekend sweep. The Huskies trailed 1-0 heading into the third period but Shawn Pauly tied it at 8:34 followed by Thompson’s power play game winner at 13:03. In between the Pauly and Thompson goals, Nichols denied UMass Lowell’s Ryan McGrath on a penalty shot. The Huskies outshot the River Hawks, 33-31.