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UConn men’s hockey weekend preview: UMass Lowell

The Huskies look to regain the form as they kick off a home-and-home series.

Troy Caldeira for The UConn Blog

On Nov. 3, UConn men’s hockey dropped Vermont 5-1 but in their four games since, they are 0-3-1. They lost games against Boston College, Vermont and most recently No. 17 Ohio State, while also grabbing a tie against the Buckeyes.

Jesse Schwartz (3-0—3) scored three goals across the weekend, while Adam Karashik (2-2—4) and Karl El-Mir (2-7—9) each had two assists. El-Mir is now tied for the team points lead with Spencer Naas (4-5—9), Johnny Austin (1-8—9) and Maxim Letunov (2-7—9). Letunov hasn’t registered a point in his last three games, while Austin hasn’t appeared on the scoresheet in six contests.

The Huskies are back in action on this weekend, continuing Hockey East play against UMass Lowell (6-6-0, 3-5-0).

The River Hawks have won two straight and three out of four, getting a win on the road against No. 9 New Hampshire and at home against Northeastern.

Mike Cavanaugh’s squad has seemed to have UMass Lowell’s number of late, as the Huskies are 4-2-1 against the River Hawks since joining Hockey East and have not lost to them since 2014-15.

Last year, the Huskies out-skated UMass Lowell on a Friday night at Tsongas Arena and got a 3-2 win behind a pair of tallies from Tage Thompson. Naas and El-Mir both scored in a 2-2 tie the following afternoon.

Ryan Lohin (5-9—14) is the River Hawks’ most dynamic offensive player, leading the team in points, assists and is tied with Kenny Hausinger (5-6—11) for the goals lead. Hausinger also has scored a point in two straight games and Lohin is tied for 14th in the country in points. Tommy Panico (3-3—6) scored two goals in Saturday’s game against Northeastern as well.

UMass Lowell’s best player, however, is its goaltender, Christoffer Hernberg. He is fifth in the nation with both a 1.64 goals against average and his .941 save percentage. Backup Tyler Wall has allowed 4.99 goals per 60 minutes across five starts. He is 0-5-0 on the year.

As far as special teams go, the River Hawks are perfectly middle-of-the-road, sitting at 37th on the power play (17.9 percent) and tied for 34th with a man down (79.2). After starting 9-for-27 with the man advantage, the Huskies are 2-for-26 since and now sit at 19.7 percent (28th). Penalty killing continues to be a problem, as they are now the seventh-worst unit in the country (72.5 percent).

These two teams are both pretty disciplined, as the Huskies are taking 11 penalty minutes per game (18th-fewest) to River Hawks’ 9.75 minutes (11th-fewest).

UConn (3-8-2, 2-4-1) and UMass Lowell start their series on Friday at 7:15 p.m. in Lowell, Massachusetts. The finale comes at 3:35 p.m. at the XL Center on Saturday.