UConn men’s hockey has hit their stride and is on the right path once again. They were arguably at rock bottom on Nov. 18, when UMass Lowell scored the only goal of a Saturday matinee on a breakaway after an offline point-to-point pass. The Huskies were winless in their last six (0-5-1) and had one win in 12 chances (1-9-2). Even when they played a good game, they couldn’t come away with a victory.
Since their trip to Vermont on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, they are 4-1-0 with only a slip-up on the road against UMass as part of a split of their first two games against each other.
Jesse Schwartz (6-4—10) has been hot of late with a point in each of his last five. Both Maxim Letunov (4-12—16) and Johnny Austin (2-12—14) are tied for 19th in the country in assists. Alexander Payusov (9-3—12) returned from knee surgery after a nine-game absence against RIT and has lit the lamp in each of his three games since getting back in the lineup, putting him four off the national pace in goals.
Adam Huska has also allowed eight goals over the run for a .946 save percentage and a 1.65 goals against average.
The Huskies have one more contest before their 22-day winter break and look to start it on a high note against No. 16 Colgate.
The Raiders (8-5-4) have played four games against two Hockey East teams on the year with a 1-2-1 record. They have also shown an ability to compete with ranked teams, taking a 3-4-0 record against teams with a number next to their name when the game was played and a 2-3-0 record against the current USCHO top-20 into Friday, but they lost to Army on the road last time out.
Bobby McMann (9-7—16) leads Colgate in goals and points, helped by a hat-trick on Nov. 25 against No. 11 Western Michigan. John Snodgrass (1-10—11) paces the Raiders in helpers.
However, the most important piece to Colgate’s success is Colton Point. The goaltender is on Team Canada’s training camp roster for the IIHF 2018 World Junior Championship as one of four goaltenders that will likely be trimmed to three on Dec. 15.
He is fourth in the country a .943 save percentage and seventh with a 1.77 goals against and will be a difficult task for the Huskies to solve.
The teams each are also strong at the face-off dots. Colgate is 53.4 percent on draws to UConn’s 55.3 percent.
The Raiders struggle on special teams, which is a weakness that the Huskies can exploit.
They are 46th out of 60 teams in the country on the power play at 14.9 percent and are 28th with a man down, killing 81.9 percent of their penalties.
UConn (7-11-2) and Colgate play on Friday at the XL Center. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on MyTV9 in Connecticut.