UConn Men’s Hockey is off for 21 days, finishing off its first semester schedule on December 9 with a 3-1 win over UMass at the XL Center.
The Huskies are 18 games through a 34-game schedule and currently hold a record of 6-6-6, the best record a UConn team has had at this point in the Hockey East era, despite the Satanic undertones. So let’s take a look at how the first half of the season went.
The Huskies currently sit at No. 25 in the Pairwise rankings, a scoring system which imitates the metric the NCAA uses to select the 10 at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament. Being 25th puts them in the top half of all Division 1 programs and within spitting distance of a tournament bid, a good place for a program less than three years into joining arguably the best conference in college hockey.
They could be much higher if they were able to finish games off though, and still have had losses to teams they should have beaten.
College Hockey News has this fun tool that lets you change game results and see what happens to the rankings. UConn tied with UMass in Amherst, Massachusetts after leading 2-0 just 3:10 into the game and the Huskies tied with American International College on home ice. The Yellow Jackets are ranked 55th out of 60 in Pairwise. No. 47 Sacred Heart also beat UConn at XL Center.
If the Huskies find a goal on one of their four power plays in the third period against AIC and don’t shut down offensively against UMass, that would give them two more wins in two very winnable games and a No. 18 ranking in Pairwise.
Toss in a tie against Sacred Heart and now they are No. 16, with a win putting them at No. 15.
Now that’s not to say that this season has been a disappointment. While sometimes it looks like any team can skate with the Huskies, they have also proven they belong on the ice against any team in the country on any given night.
Ten of UConn’s 18 games have been against a team ranked in the USCHO.com coaches’ poll, with the Huskies posting a record of 3-5-2. Seven of those matchups were on the road, where they are 2-4-2.
The Huskies earned a split against then-No. 7 Notre Dame in South Bend on Halloween weekend. They got a win in the opener, 4-2 and while they lost the second matchup by a score of 6-2, they played well at times in that one too.
Two weeks later they took on No. 14 Ohio State in Columbus. They only got a tie out of the affair, but in both games put together stretches where they looked strong offensively.
But it was during the series against No. 5 Boston University the weekend of November 19 that the team hit its stride.
UConn split the series, but played very well across the full 120 minutes, looking the better team for most of the weekend. Friday saw a 2-1 Boston University win on two unfortunate bounces, but UConn dominated from start to finish in a 4-0 Husky victory on the road.
UConn is 2-1-1 in its last four games against ranked opponents. The Huskies got a win on the road against No. 4 UMass-Lowell on December 2 and tied the River Hawks the following night at the XL Center. The only loss comes against No. 4 Boston College at the XL Center the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
UConn (4-3-2) sits at sixth in the conference at the break, tied with Boston University (4-2-2) at eight points. The Huskies are five points clear of Merrimack (1-4-3) and UMass (2-7-1), who are tied for eighth place and are only three points back of UMass-Lowell (6-3-1), who hold sole possession of second place.
The top four finishers in the regular season standings get a first-round bye and the middle four finishers host a first round series. If the season were to end today, UConn would host Providence (1-4-2) in a first round, best-of-three series.
The Huskies will next suit up in Prescott Valley, Arizona for the Desert Hockey Classic. UConn will face off against No. 17 St. Cloud State at 6:00 p.m. on December 30. The Huskies’ second game in the tournament will be against whoever matches their result in the game between Arizona State and Brown on December 31.