Feb. 26, 2014
STORRS, Conn. -- The postseason is here, and the sixth-seeded UConn women's hockey team (9-23-2, 6-14-1 WHEA) will travel to Boston for a match-up with third-seeded Northeastern (18-13-2, 13-6-2 WHEA) in the 12th Annual Women's Hockey East Championship Tournament Quarterfinals. UConn surged past preseason expectations in first-year bench boss Chris MacKenzie's debut season, finishing in a tie for fifth in the WHEA standings after being selected to turn in an eighth place finish in the preseason poll.
UConn is led offensively this season by the high-scoring pair of wingers Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) and Michela Cava (Thunder Bay, Ontario). The duo finished the regular season tied for the team-high with 26 points, as MacDonnell posted a 11-15-26 scoring line and Cava a 10-16-26 mark. Against Maine on Feb. 21, they became the first UConn teammates to pick up at least 25 points in the same season since Michelle Binning, Monique Weber and Jennifer Chaisson in 2009-10. They have also been lethal on the power play, coming in tied for fifth in the conference with 11 points each on the man advantage. Only Vermont also has more than one player in the top-five in the league in power play points
The Huskies have also received strong offensive seasons from junior Kayla Campero (Wallingford, Conn.) and classmate Rachel Farrel (Cheshire, Conn.). Campero is tied with Cava for second on the team with 10 goals, while Farrel is nipping at their heels with eight tallies. Emily Snodgrass (Eagan, Minn.) has had a solid year with four goals and 11 assists, placing fourth on the squad with 15 points. Holy Cross transfer Rebecca Fleming (Newton, Mass.) has also provided some scoring punch, totaling two goals and seven assists in her first year at the D-I level. Kiana Nauheim (Fairbanks, Alaska) leads all UConn defensemen with a career-high six points.
In goal, the Huskies have relied primarily on sophomore Elaine Chuli (Waterford, Ontario), who has been excellent in 2013-14. Chuli currently holds a 2.52 GAA and a .929 save percentage, boasting a pair of shutouts on the year. As it stands, Chuli would set the UConn single-season program record for save percentage.
The Series: Northeastern
The Huskies in Navy and White have skated with their counterparts in Red and Black 43 times, with an even 17-17-9 record in the all-time series. Northeastern has held the upper hand in recent seasons, currently riding a 10-game winning streak against UConn dating back to the 2010-11 season. Prior to that, UConn was unbeaten in four contests, with its last win over NU coming on Feb. 10, 2011. Northeastern swept the season series with UConn this season, going 3-0-0. Most recently, NU took both ends of a two-game set in Boston Feb. 15 and 16, shutting out UConn by scores of 3-0 and 5-0. Connecticut's only goal this year vs. Northeastern came from Sarah MacDonnell, an extra attacker tally in a 3-1 loss on Jan. 15 in Storrs.
A Look at the (Other) Huskies
Northeastern hosts UConn after securing the No. 3 seed in the WHEA Tournament by sweeping a home-and-home with New Hampshire last weekend. NU enters the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the nation, winners of 11 of their last 12, including victories in 10 straight conference games to close the year. The Huskies are currently receiving votes in both major polls. Northeastern is led on offense by three seniors who have potted at least 13 goals, with Kelly Wallace leading the way with 18. Wallace is also first on the team with 31 points, followed by Paige Savage and her 7-22-29 scoring line. Katie MacSorley (15 goals) and Brittany Esposito (13) have also had success lighting the lamp this season, and Hayley Scamurra is second on the team with 14 assists in addition to seven goals. Chloe Desjarins has started 32 games in goal this year and holds a .925 save percentage with a 2.33 GAA for the Huskies.
Last Time Out
UConn dropped both ends of a home series against Maine last weekend, falling to the Black Bears by scores of 4-1 and 5-2. Michela Cava had a goal in each game, and Susan Cavanagh also scored in the second game of the series. Cava's goal on Feb. 22 gave her 10 on the season, making her the first player to record double-digit goals in back-to-back seasons since Michelle Binning in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Friday kicks off the 12th annual WHEA Tournament. UConn has participated in the annual championship seven prior times, including last year when the field expanded back to eight teams. Overall, the Huskies hold a 3-7 record in the WHEA Tournament, but defeated Northeastern in the 2010 quarterfinals. The only other time the two Huskies met in postseason play was the 2011 quarterfinals, a 4-0 NU victory. Connecticut has advanced to the WHEA Finals twice, making the title game in 2005 and 2010.
Should Connecticut's Huskies advance, they will move to the WHEA Semifinal round at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Skating Rink at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center in Hyannis, Mass. The semifinals are set for March 8 before the title game on March 9.