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BOSTON -- The UConn women's hockey team (4-10-5, 0-5-2 WHEA) returns to the ice for the first time since November when it opens 2015 with a Hockey East match-up at Northeastern (6-9-3, 5-4-0 WHEA). The two sets of Huskies last squared off in the WHEA Quarterfinals on Feb. 28, 2014, a 2-1 victory for NU in Boston. Puck drop at historic Matthews Arena on Saturday, Jan. 3 is set for 2 p.m.
Connecticut was led offensively in the first half by the high-scoring senior duo of Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) and Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.). MacDonnell leads all Huskies with a 4-8-12 scoring line, while Snodgrass is tops on the squad with eight goals and has posted 10 points. Freshman Leah Lum (Richmond, British Columbia) has provided an offensive spark from the blue line with a 3-6-9 ledger in her rookie campaign, while classmate Theresa Knutson (Onalaska, Wis.) is second on UConn with five goals.
In goal, two-time WHEA Defensive Player of the Week Elaine Chuli (Waterford, Ontario) returned at the tail end of 2014 in terrific form, stopping 83-of-86 shots in the year-ending Nutmeg Classic to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team. Overall this season, Chuli holds a 2.75 GAA and a .922 save percentage, the third-best mark in Hockey East.
The Series: Northeastern
The Huskies in National Flag Blue and White have faced their counterparts in Red and Black 44 times in the past, with NU holding a slim 18-17-9 advantage in the all-time series. Northeastern took all four meetings last season, sweeping UConn in three regular season contests before the aforementioned postseason victory. Connecticut's last victory over NU came in the 2010-11 season, a 4-2 victory on Feb. 10, 2011. Northeastern is currently riding an 11-game winning streak in the series. Last season marked the third time the two have met in Hockey East Tournament action, with NU coming away victories in two of the three outings. In last year's quarterfinal, MacDonnell gave UConn a 1-0 lead it kept late into the third period, before NU stormed back with two goals in a span of 1:06 to come back and advance to the WHEA semifinals.
Notes on Northeastern
Northeastern hosts Connecticut with a 6-9-3 record on the year and a 5-4-0 mark in league action. NU returned from its break on Wednesday with a 5-1 setback against Dartmouth. The Red and Black Huskies are led by United States Olympian and captain Kendall Coyne, who has returned to Boston after helping the USA win silver in Sochi. Coyne is tops on NU and top-five in Hockey East with a 12-11-23 scoring line, also leading the squad with a +11 rating. Hayley Scamurra is second on the team with a 10-5-15 ledger, and Heather Mottau has 13 points including a team-high 12 assists. Freshmen Denisa Krizova (5-8-13) and McKenna Brand (6-5-11) are also in double-digit points for Northeastern. Between the pipes, Chloe Desjardins has seen the bulk of action and holds a 2.40 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Both marks place her in the top-four in Hockey East.
Last Time Out
UConn closed 2014 with a pair of contests at Freitas Ice Forum in the Nutmeg Classic, dropping a narrow 2-1 overtime decision to No. 5 Clarkson before closing the year with a 3-1 win over Yale to claim third place in the annual tournament. In the Clarkson game on Nov. 28, Kayla Campero (Wallingford, Conn.) scored a second-period goal to give the Huskies an edge on the defending national champions which they held into the third period. The Golden Knights eventually tied the contest before an overtime winner, but Chuli turned aside 51 shots for the Huskies to keep the contest tight throughout. In the Nutmeg Consolation Game against Yale on Nov. 29, UConn fell behind early before coming back in a 3-1 victory. Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.) tied the contest in the first period with her fourth goal of the season, before Madison Badeau (Courtice, Ontario) scored her first career goal in the second frame. Badeau's goal would stand as the game-winner thanks to a third-period shorthanded empty-netter for Snodgrass and 32 saves in the contest from Chuli. Following the tournament, Chuli earned a spot on the All-Tournament team after recording a 1.47 GAA and .965 save percentage in UConn's two games.
Following the contest at NU, UConn closes its non-conference slate when it skates at No. 6 Harvard on Tuesday, Jan. 6. Puck drop from Cambridge, Mass. is set for 7 p.m.