Site: Compton Family Ice Arena | South Bend, Ind.
TV: NBC Sports Network. Steve Schlanger and Anson Carter will have the call.
Radio/Web: WHUS 91.7 FM and streamed online at www.whus.org/live/
Live Stats: www.UND.com
This past Saturday, Mike Cavanaugh's men's hockey club notched yet another ranked win, beating No. 6 UMass Lowell 2-0 in the XL Center. UConn's home away from home in Hartford has proven to offer quite the home-ice advantage, with 6,855 in attendance to see the Huskies take down the current Hockey East leaders.
Right now the Huskies (7-10-4, 4-4-1 Hockey East) are tied for seventh in the conference with Merrimack, but just one point behind sixth-place Notre Dame (9-11-2, 4-2-2 Hockey East) and three points behind Boston College and Providence – who are in a tie for fourth. There is still a lot of hockey to play, but if UConn finishes eighth or better in the conference it would mean we get to watch a postseason best-of-three hockey series at the XL Center.
Given the way the Huskies have played against some of the best teams in the country, it's hard not to believe that the Huskies could be hosting postseason hockey this season. How would you rate our chances in a three-game series at XL?
The next two games will be telling. Notre Dame's 2014-'15 campaign started with a preseason loss to Waterloo and two losses to kick-off the regular season. The Irish then went on a five game winning streak, including a win over a ranked Vermont team. They followed that up with a tie in a second consecutive home game against the Catamounts, and have also tied UMass Lowell. They come into tonight riding a three-game losing streak, which includes two losses to Western Michigan in a home-and-home and a loss to Lake Superior State on neutral ice.
The Huskies enter tonight with two straight wins, having bested Army at West Point, 6-3, before the upset of UMass Lowell at home. It is their first such streak of the season. Freshman forward Spencer Naas has been feeling it since UConn resumed play after the finals break, with six goals in six games including four straight games with a goal going into this one. The freshman from Minnesota hockey powerhouse Benilde St. Margaret High is currently second in the nation among freshmen in goals scored behind the famous Jack Eichel of Boston University.
The Irish are led by junior forward Mario Lucia and senior defensemen Robbie Russo. Lucia's team-high 13 goals puts him at eighth in the country and he shares the team lead in points with Russo at 19. They have a timeshare going on in the crease, with freshman Cal Petersen (2.67 GAA, .904 Sv.%) and sophomore Chad Katunar (2.97 GAA, .900 Sv%) splitting the netminding duties. I heard they also run a fantasy football team together.
UConn's goalie, the human brick wall who we call Rob Nichols, is coming off his second shutout of the season against UMass-Lowell. Both shutouts have come against ranked teams, with the first coming in the 1-0 upset of Boston College at the XL Center in November.
My how far UConn Hockey has come in just one season as members of Hockey East. Going from games at the Freitas Ice Forum to nationally televised games and a legitimate shot at hosting a series in the Hockey East tournament. No matter what happens tonight or in this series, you have to be extremely proud of the way the Huskies have played this season. Onward and upward.