STORRS, Conn. (December 28, 2008) - After a 24 day break for finals, the University of Connecticut Huskies will return to action in the Toyota UConn Classic on December 29. The first game of the night will take place between Merrimack and Quinnipiac at 4:00 p.m. with action between UConn and No. 11 Air Force continuing at 7:15 p.m.
The 16th annual Toyota UConn Classic on December 29, 2008 will feature three hockey conferences and a top 20 team. Over the years, 28 different teams have competed in the Toyota UConn Classic with 10 of them winning a title including last year’s champion, Ferris State. Quinnipiac will be making its UConn Classic debut this season. Merrimack first made its appearance during the 2004 Classic where they placed third and recorded a 1-1-0 record. Air Force boasts a 2-1-1 record appearing in the 2001 and 2003 classics, winning in 2001 and falling just short in the championship to UConn in 2003. UConn holds a 13-14-1 record in the classic and has won three times in 1995, 1999, and 2003.
The tournament will kick off with a game between the Merrimack Warriors of the Hockey East conference and the Quinnipiac Bobcats of the ECAC.
Merrimack is off to a 4-8-3 record (2-7-2 Hockey East) in their 2008-09 season. But the Warriors had to face five ranked teams (and three more that are receiving votes) including a stretch where they competed in five-straight games against ranked opponents with three against the 2007-08 champion Boston College. Rob Ricci has scored the majority of the 29 Merrimack goals scored this season with five but Chris Barton leads the team in points recorded with 11 tallying four goals and seven assists this season. Merrimack has yet to play a game on neutral grounds during the 2008-09 season. They come into the game against Quinnipiac after a 3-2 home loss to Maine on December 7.
Quinnipiac is 7-6-1 and 4-3-1 in the ECAC. The Bobcats are 0-3-1 against ranked opponents this season falling to Princeton three times and taking Cornell to a 0-0 tie at the TD Banknorth Center. Currently they sit alone fifth place in the ECAC just a point behind Harvard and Dartmouth. The Bobcats have outscored their opponents by 10 this season with David Marshall leading the way in goals scored with seven and Bryan Leitch collecting the most points on the team and the league (21) with four goals and an unheralded 17 assists. The Bobcats are 1-1 on the season at neutral sites defeating AIC and losing to Union at the Mutual of Omaha Classic. Quinnipiac comes into their game against Merrimack after a 5-2 home win against Providence.
The second game of the day features two teams from the Atlantic Hockey conference with UConn taking on #11 Air Force.
The Falcons started out the season on a 13 game win streak before they hit their first bump in the road in a 4-1 loss to #9 Denver. The Falcons have only competed against two ranked teams this season. First they took down #3 Colorado College on the weekend of Nov. 28-29 before they fell to Denver. Currently Air Force is 14-2-0 and 11-1-0 in Atlantic Hockey receiving their first divisional loss of the year to RIT entering their break for finals. The Tigers downed Air Force in overtime. Jacques Lamoureux leads the team and Atlantic Hockey and, until recently, led the country in points per game as he has recorded 12 goals and 12 assists on the season. The Falcons come into their game with UConn after their home loss to RIT.
UConn is 4-11 on the season with a 3-5 Atlantic Hockey record. Their only non-conference win came against Brown University. Compared to the other Atlantic Hockey teams, the Huskies are in a tie for fewest conference games played with Mercyhurst. UConn has only played eight during the beginning of their 2008-09 season. The Huskies have scored 32 goals this season with 13 members of the team tallying at least one goal on the year. Freshman Marcello Ranallo is the leading point-getter for the Huskies with 13 points on four goals and nine assists. Sophomore Jason Krispel is right behind him with twelve points as he has scored one goal and recorded a team-leading 11 assists. Sophomore Andrew Olson leads the team in goals scored seven during the 2008-09 season. The Huskies come into their game with Air Force after a 5-1 road loss to UMass. They are the only team competing in the tournament to play their last three games on the road.