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UConn Men’s Hockey Weekend Preview: AIC & Sacred Heart

The Huskies play the first two of their 10-game non-conference schedule.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Last weekend, the UConn men’s hockey team played well and grabbed a split against Maine on the road to open the season.

Senior forward Jeff Wight came back from last year’s season-ending shoulder injury in a big way with a goal and two assists, which was good to tie the team points lead with junior defenseman Johnny Austin (0-3—3) and junior forward Karl El-Mir (1-2—3). Eleven skaters notched points on eight goals, which were scored by eight different players.

Adam Huska was beat a couple times on Friday, but buckled down on Saturday and exited the weekend with a .931 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average.

This weekend, UConn will begin the non-conference portion of its schedule and continue the road trip with two programs that have been frustrating in recent years in American International and Sacred Heart.

Last season, the Yellow Jackets and Huskies could not reach a decision and tied at the XL Center last season in a game where UConn had 7:47 of power play time in the first 8:43 of third period but could not score.

To begin the year, American International is 0-2-1 after being swept decisively at home by Army during the first weekend followed by a tie on the road against Bentley on Tuesday.

Like last year, the game could have lots of penalties. The Yellow Jackets are one of the least disciplined teams in college hockey as they have 57 penalty minutes across 21 penalties committed through three games, including two game misconducts.

UConn had a strong power play weekend against Maine, converting on 33.3 percent of its chances and even those that didn’t score a goal saw good puck movement and chances at net.

In last year’s contest, Zackarias Skog made 36 saves and kept American International in the game throughout and it’s likely he will be in net again on Friday as he has played every minute between the pipes so far this year. He has an .875 save percentage and has allowed 3.28 goals per game.

The Yellow Jackets have scored five goals through their first three games, with no one scoring more than one. Forwards Shawn McBride (1-1—2) and Blake Christensen (1-1—2) as well as defensemen Janis Jaks (1-1—2) and Patrik Demel (1-1—2) are the only players with multiple points in the early stages of the season. Christensen led the team in points last year as well.

The Huskies look to extend a 19-game unbeaten streak against American International College that dates back to the 2007-08 season. They are 15-0-4 in this stretch.

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UConn will end the weekend with a game in Bridgeport against Sacred Heart on Saturday. The Huskies are trying to break a four-game losing streak against the Pioneers, which was extended last year at the XL Center.

Northeastern blew the doors off of Sacred Heart on consecutive nights in Matthews Arena last weekend, winning 7-3 on Friday and 7-0 on Saturday.

Junior forward Stephen Hladin (1-1—2) is the only player with multiple points. Vito Bavaro (1-0—1) was ejected from Saturday’s game for a major contact to the head penalty and will be suspended for the game with UConn.

In net, it will be either junior Brett Magnus or senior Nathan Perry. Magnus played the first two periods on Friday as well as the final two periods on Saturday, with Perry playing the remainder.

UConn (1-1-0) will play American International at MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Puck drop against Sacred Heart on Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport is also at 7:05 p.m.