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The UConn Huskies return to Hockey East action on Wednesday night with a trip to No. 7 nationally ranked UMass Lowell. The Huskies are looking to rebound from a 1-0 loss on the road at Brown on Saturday. The River Hawks dropped their only game last week, falling at home to Harvard, 4-2. UMass Lowell has yet to drop a conference game this season, coming in at 5-0-2.
UConn vs. UMass Lowell All-Time Series... The Huskies and River Hawks have met 25 times on the ice since the 1968-69 season with UMass Lowell owning an 18-6-1 edge in the series history. Since UConn made the jump to Division I in 1998-99, the River Hawks have won four of the five meetings between the two schools including winning the 2011 UConn Hockey Classic holiday tournament. The Huskies lone win during the Division I era came on October 18, 2011, a 3-2 overtime victory on the road at Conway Arena in Nashua, New Hampshire.
- After Wednesday’s game, UConn will be off until the Frozen Holiday Classic on December 27th & 28th. The Huskies and River Hawks will both take part in the tournament at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. UMass Lowell faces Sacred Heart in game one with the Huskies and Union scheduled for game two on Saturday, December 27th.
- UConn is 5th in Hockey East and 21st nationally killing penalties at a .870 clip (47/54).
- Goaltender Rob Nichols is ranked fourth in Hockey East and 13th nationally in save percentage (.934). He has faced 426 shots this season, the fourth highest total in the nation.
- The UConn offense has scored two goals or fewer in 12 of the 14 games this year and is 2-5 in one goal games. The Huskies are averaging 1.57 goals per game, ranked 56th among 59 teams nationally. UConn is ahead of RPI (1.56), Brown (1.44) and Princeton (1.30).
- UConn’s power play unit has not scored since the 4-4 tie at Boston University (Nov. 8th), a streak of 18-straight power play chances.
- UConn is averaging 6,188 fans at home after the first four games at the XL Center. UConn and Boston College (6,021) are the only two Hockey East clubs averaging over 6,000 fans at home this season.
Scouting the River Hawks… The UMass Lowell River Hawks come in ranked seventh in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls this week after falling to Harvard at home, 4-2, in their only action last week. The River Hawks are third in the Hockey East standings with 12 points and are the only team in the league unbeaten in conference play (5-0-2). UMass Lowell is one of the top scoring teams in the country, leading the league and ranking fourth nationally averaging 3.64 goals per game. Freshmen C.J. Smith is one of the top-rookies in the nation with 13 points on the season. Smith is tied for fifth among the nation’s freshmen in scoring on the season. Smith has three goals and a pair of assists on a power play unit that ranks third in the league at 21.2 percent (11/52). Sophomore Joe Gambardella is seventh among Hockey East’s top-goal scorers with six goals on the season. On the blue line, sophomores Michael Kapla and Dylan Zink each have 10 points to their credit and are tied for fourth in scoring among Hockey East defensemen.
Last Meeting with UMass Lowell... The Huskies battled back from being down 3-0 to force overtime before UMass Lowell’s David Vallorani provided the game-winner in the extra session to claim the 2011 UConn Hockey Classic tournament in Storrs. Vallorani was named the tournament MVP after his overtime winner gave him two goals and three assists on the weekend. The River Hawks took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Scott Wilson and Vallorani and extended their lead to 3-0 at the 14:10 mark of the second on a Terrence Wallin goal. The Huskies began their climb back at the 18:26 mark of the second as junior Sean Ambrosie buried a power play goal. UConn carried the momentum into the third and struck for two quick goals in the opening two minutes, coming 11 seconds apart. Freshman Cody Sharib cut the lead to 3-2 at the 1:47 mark, cleaning up a rebound. The Huskies scored just 11 seconds later after earning a power play as Ambrosie set up sophomore Billy Latta in the right circle who buried it to knot the game at 3-3. The Huskies killed off a pair of penalties in the opening minutes of overtime before Vallorani came up with his second of the game at 13:01, cleaning up a rebound in front of goaltender Garrett Bartus to claim the trophy. Bartus finished with 39 saves in the loss while UMass Lowell netminder Doug Carr stopped 26 shots. UConn finished 2-for-4 on the power play and killed off all seven River Hawk power play chances.
Last Time Out... Brown University junior captain Mark Naclerio provided the game’s only goal as the Bears posted a 1-0 shutout over the Huskies last Saturday from Meehan Auditorium in Providence, R.I. Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols made 27 saves in taking the loss for the Huskies. Brown goaltender Tim Ernst made 25 stops to earn the shutout victory, his first of the season and career. Naclerio’s goal came after the two teams battled their way under the 10 minute mark of the third period to a scoreless draw. UConn looked to clear deep in their zone when senior defenseman Jacob Poe lost control of the puck right in front of Nichols. Naclerio picked-up the loose puck and quickly deposited it past Nichols before the Huskies could recover, providing the game-winner, unassisted. Both teams finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play with the Huskies now without a power play goal in their last 18 chances, dating back to their 4-4 tie at Boston University (Nov. 8th). The shutout loss was the second for the Huskies this season (2-0 vs. Sacred Heart) and drops UConn to 2-4 in one goal games this season.