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The UConn Huskies will end a 23-day break on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Union Dutchmen of the ECAC on day one of the Frozen Holiday Classic at Webster Bank Arena. The Huskies closed out the first half of their season with a 3-8-4 overall mark and are 2-4-1 in Hockey East play placing them ninth in the league standings. UConn is looking to start the second half of their season by putting an end to a three-game slide, their longest of the season. Union makes their return to Bridgeport where they claimed a pair of NCAA East Regional titles (2012, 2014) and trips to the Frozen Four. The Dutchmen are the defending national champions and return from their holiday break having won four of their last five.
UConn vs. Union All-Time Series... Saturday’s match-up will be the 11th meeting on the ice between UConn and Union. The Dutchmen are unbeaten in their 11 meetings with the Huskies, posting a 7-0-4 mark. In the last three meetings, the two teams have skated to a tie. The first meeting in the all-time series took place during the 2000-01 campaign. The Huskies are 0-3-2 at home and 0-4-3 on the road against the Dutchmen.
- Sophomore Joona Kunnas posted his first career multi-point game in the 6-4 loss at UMass Lowell. Kunnas finished with a career-high three points on a goal and two assists.
- Goaltender Rob Nichols is ranked sixth in Hockey East and 19th nationally in save percentage (.928). He has faced 458 shots this season, the 11th highest total in the nation.
- Nichols has played 96.5% of the minutes this season (890:47), eighth highest nationally.
- UConn is sixth in Hockey East and 22nd nationally killing penalties at a .855 clip (47/55).
- The UConn offense has scored two goals or fewer in 12 of the 15 games this year and is 2-5 in one goal games. The Huskies are averaging 1.73 goals per game, ranked 55th among 59 teams nationally. UConn is ahead of Lake Superior State (1.70), Brown (1.64), RPI (1.58) and Princeton (1.38).
Scouting the Dutchmen… The Union Dutchmen begin the second half of their season sitting at 9-6-1 overall and 3-4-1 in the ECAC. The Dutchmen enter this weekend’s tournament winners of four of their last five and coming off a weekend sweep of Brown, 7-1, and Yale, 3-1, in league action. Union is 4-0 against Hockey East teams this season, sweeping Maine in a two-game set and notching wins over New Hampshire and Notre Dame. The Union offense is averaging 3.5 goals per game, the fourth highest scoring team in the country. Sophomore Mike Vecchione and senior Daniel Ciampini have both reached the 20-point mark over the first 16 games on the schedule. Vecchione has seven goals and 15 assists on the year, tied for sixth among the nation’s point leaders. Ciampini is the team’s leading goal scorer with nine to go with 11 assists. Vecchione and classmate Jeff Taylor are tied for third in the nation with 15 assists. Senior goaltender Colin Stevens has seen the majority of minutes in net and sports a 2.12 goals against with a .923 save percentage.
Last Meeting with Union... For the third-straight meeting, UConn and Union skated to a draw as the Huskies opened their home schedule last season with a 2-2 tie against the Dutchmen in Storrs. UConn’s senior goaltender Matt Grogan turned in a 47 save night keeping Union off the scoreboard after the first period to preserve the tie. The Dutchmen tallied two goals in the opening period as Mark Bennett chipped in a loose rebound at 8:20 to open the scoring. The Dutchmen struck again for another open up a 2-0 lead at 17:24 as Mike Vecchione was able to redirect a Kevin Sullivan shot past Grogan. That would all the Union offense could muster against Grogan on the night as the senior netminder made 19 of his 47 stops in the second period as the Huskies ignited some offense. Senior Billy Latta picked up his first tally of the season scoring on a break-away at 6:17. Latta slipped behind two Union defensemen on the UConn rush in the neutral zone, accepting a crafty pass by linemate Jordan Simms. Latta flew down the remainder of the ice and deked Alex Sakellaropoulos down to his right side, shoveling the puck into the opening on the short side to cut the lead to one. Sophomore Tyler Bouchard leveled the score at two apiece with 7:25 remaining in the second stanza. Freshman Brent Norris gained set-up Bouchard streaking through the slot, who one-touched the puck past Sakellaropoulos for his first goal of the year. Sakellaropoulos finished with 21 stops in the Union net.
Last Time Out... UConn sophomore Joona Kunnas had a career-high three points on a goal and two assists but a late comeback came up short as the Huskies fell to the No. 7 nationally ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks, 6-4, on December 3rd at Tsongas Center. It was a season-high third-straight for the Huskies. The Huskies were down 5-2 in the third period but rallied for a pair of goals to pull within a 5-4 with just over three minutes to play. UConn was able to get the extra attacker on the ice in the closing minute of action but couldn’t find the equalizer as UML’s Adam Chapie iced the game away with an empty netter with 11 seconds left for the 6-4 win. The Huskies finished the night 2-for-5 on the power play but allowed a goal on UML’s only chance and also gave up a shorthanded score. Sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols finished the night with 27 saves, 11 coming in the first period of action. UML’s Kevin Boyle collected the win for the River Hawks making 20 stops. Senior defenseman Jacob Poe netted his first goal of the season while classmate Trevor Gerling added to his team-leading total with his fifth. Sophomore Evan Richardson chipped in his third of the season while freshman Jesse Schwartz notched his first career multi-point game with a pair of assists.
Huskies at Webster Bank Arena...
- The Huskies have five games on their 2014-15 schedule at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
- UConn is 2-1-0 all-time when playing in Bridgeport.
- The Huskies defeated No. 15 Quinnipiac, 4-1, at Webster Bank earlier this season.
- UConn beat Sacred Heart, 4-0, in 2012-13 and lost to the Pioneers, 2-1, in 2010-11 at the Bridgeport arena.
- The Huskies will host Colorado College (Jan. 6th) and Hockey East foe Notre Dame (Jan. 18th) in Bridgeport.
Huskies vs. the ECAC...
- The Huskies are 1-2-1 against the ECAC this season with Saturday’s match-up with defending national champion Union the only game left against the league left on the schedule.
- UConn is 14-48-9 all-time against teams from the ECAC.
- The Huskies have faced Brown (1-5-1), Colgate (2-5-0), Dartmouth (0-2-0), Princeton (0-3-0), Quinnipiac (11-12-2), Rensselaer (0-3-2), Union (0-7-4) and Yale (0-11-0) from the league.
Huskies in Tournament Action...
- This is the second in-season tournament for UConn this season.
- The Huskies played in the Liberty Hockey Invitational at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. on Oct. 31st & Nov. 2nd.
- UConn skated to a 2-2 tie with Merrimack and advanced to the championship game in a shootout, 2-0.
- The Huskies fell to in-state rival Yale in the title, game 2-1.