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UConn men’s hockey preview: No. 14 Boston College

The icebus is back!

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey has had a 22-day layoff after a successful end to the first half of the season which they finished on a 5-1-0 run, capping it off with a win over No. 16 Colgate on Dec. 8.

The Huskies sit sixth in the Hockey East standings but have played more games than any other team except for Boston University. They kick off the second half of the season in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to visit No. 14 Boston College.

Hockey East Standings

Team Games Played Record Points Points per game
Team Games Played Record Points Points per game
Boston College 12 9-3-0 18 1.50
Northeastern 12 8-3-1 17 1.42
Providence 11 6-4-1 13 1.18
Boston University 13 6-6-1 13 1.00
UMass Lowell 12 6-6-0 12 1.00
UConn 13 5-7-1 11 0.85
Maine 9 4-4-1 9 1.00
New Hampshire 10 4-5-1 9 0.90
UMass 7 3-4-0 6 0.86
Merrimack 10 2-6-2 6 0.60
Vermont 9 1-6-2 4 0.44

The Eagles (9-7-2, 9-3-0) have dominated in conference play, losing only to Boston University, Northeastern and Providence, splitting each of those series, and despite going 0-4-2 in non-conference play against current No. 1 St. Cloud State, No. 2 Denver, No. 13 Wisconsin, Harvard and Quinnipiac.

Boston College has not played since Dec. 9 when they took a 5-2 home loss to No. 10 Northeastern as part of a 1-2-1 run over their final four games of the semester, cooling down after winning seven straight games prior, all in Hockey East play, including a 2-1 win at home over UConn on Nov. 7. The Eagles scored two special teams goals, one with the man advantage and one on the penalty kill, in the victory.

Julius Matilla (5-9—14) has registered a point in eight of his last nine contests and leads Boston College in points. Matilla leads an offense that is 38th nationally at 2.72 goals per game, though that jumps to 3.17 goals per game in conference play. He is tied with Christopher Brown (5-5—10), Graham McPhee (5-5—10), Christopher Grando (5-4—9) for the lead in goals as well as the assists lead with Logan Hutsko (3-9—12) and David Cotton (3-9—12). The Eagles will be without Aapeli Rasanen (3-7—10), who will be skating for Finland in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Defensively, BC is tied for 30th at 2.89 goals allowed per game but Joe Woll, who has anchored the team between the pipes, will be tending goal for the United States in Buffalo in the World Junior Championship. Ryan Edquist, who started in Woll’s stead against the Huskies earlier this season, is the probable goaltender against UConn. He has a 1.97 goals against average in five games, three of which were starts and one that lasted 1.6 seconds. He has a .939 save percentage as well.

For UConn, Jesse Schwartz (7-4—11) has scored a point in each of his last six games, while Alexander Payusov (9-5—14) has gotten on the scoresheet in the four games he’s played in since returning from knee surgery. Goaltender Adam Huska has been excellent in back as the Huskies have allowed more than two goals once in seven games.

Maxim Letunov (5-14—19) had three points against Colgate (1-2—3) and has also registered a point in five straight contests, a career-high. He leads the team in points.

UConn and Boston College kick off the second halves of their seasons on Saturday at Conte Forum. Puck drop is at 3 p.m. and it will be broadcast on ESPN3.