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UConn Men’s Hockey Weekend Preview: Northeastern

Points are crucial for UConn against the other Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Live Updates- Saturday:

First Period:

0:00- and the game is on! Rob Nichols will be starting in net. Brian Morgan, Max Kalter and Corey Ronan are the forwards and David Drake and Philip Nyberg will be the defensive pairing to get us going.

4:16- hockey is a funny sport. UConn is by far the better team in the first four minutes, but it is Northeastern who has the lead on a Zach Ashton-Reese goal.

7:12- just shy of three minutes later, he is back at it again. A great pass from Nolan Stevens finds Ashton-Reese for his 26th tally of the year. 2-0 Northeastern.

12:00- Philip Nyberg gets called for hooking. It's early, but Northeastern could go a long way to putting it away if they convert here.

12:12- welp. Adam Gaudette pushes one in on a scramble in front of the net. 3-0 Northeastern.

13:50- for reasons unknown, Northeastern takes their time out.

16:13- can UConn start to crawl out of it? They have an opportunity as Eric Williams goes to the box for high-sticking.

17:49- Evan Richardson will serve a too many men on the ice penalty and wipe out the rest of UConn's power play.

19:49- he is sprung.

20:00- UConn looked great in the first four minutes, but that is long gone. Northeastern is up 3-0.

Second Period:

0:00- and the second period is on! UConn didn't play as poorly as the score might suggest. Let's see if they can get some results and start to crawl out of this hole.

1:47- Maxim Letunov and Karl El-Mir crashed the net and Letunov came away with the goal. 3-1 Northeastern

16:28- Ashton-Reese seems to have his hat trick but the call is under review.

Good goal.

20:00- UConn played well for a longer portion of the middle stanza, but they could not close the deficit. They will need the greatest period of the season to come back in this one.

Third Period:

0:00- and the third period is on! Can UConn make a comeback?

0:17- Nyberg is checked hard and Ashton-Reese goes off for interference.

2:11- Joe Masonius goes off for tripping.

4:11- Richardson is free.

10:40- media timeout. Not much headway offensively for UConn. Let's see if they improve with some time to talk things over.

14:40- Ryan Shea is called for a high stick. UConn back on the man advantage.

20:00- final from Boston.

Live Updates- Friday:

First Period:

0:00- and the game is on! Adam Huska starts in net for UConn, with Philip Nyberg and David Drake in front him as the defensive pairing. Spencer Naas, Tage Thompson and Kasperi Ojantakanen are the forwards.

8:38- Jeremy Davies off for interference. UConn gets the first power play of the night.

10:38- He is out. UConn is now 0-for-1 with the man advantage.

20:00- that was not the most exciting period out there. Northeastern leads 9-to-4 in shots.

Second Period:

0:00- and the second period is on!

7:14- Mike Jamieson to the box for interference. UConn (0-for-1) back on the man advantage.

12:52- Sam Kurker breaks the tie, putting a loose puck behind Huska.

14:12- Derek Pratt gets called for holding. Northeastern gets their first power play of the game up a goal.

16:12- Pratt is out, 1-0 Northeastern.

17:43- Northeastern gets a second one. Adam Gaudette gets his goal after a review to see if the net came off before the goal.

20:00- Northeastern leads in shots on goal, 21-to-9 and on the scoreboard, 2-0. UConn needs a big third period to avoid a third straight loss.

Third Period:

0:00- and the period is on! Time to dig deep for the Huskies.

5:19- Derek Pratt called for tripping. Northeastern gets a second chance on the power play, they are 0-for-1.

14:26- UConn and Northeastern will play four-on-four. Matt Filipe and Karl El-Mir off on offsetting slashing calls.

18:10- Cavanaugh takes his timeout and Huska is out of the net.

18:23- Sam Kurker gets his second, notching the empty netter.

20:00- UConn loses their third in a row, 3-0 final.

Preview

It is truly getting down to the nitty-gritty in the chase for home-ice advantage in the Hockey East Tournament. Except for UMass Lowell and UMass, everyone has four games to go over the final two weekends. UConn has fallen out of a top-eight spot in the conference for the first time all season.

Hockey East Standings

Team Games Played Record Points Remaining Opponents
Team Games Played Record Points Remaining Opponents
Boston College 18 13-4-1 27 UVM, UML
Boston University 18 11-5-2 24 UNH, ND
UMass-Lowell 19 11-7-1 23 UMass (x1), BC
Notre Dame 18 10-5-3 23 PC, BU
Providence 18 10-6-2 22 ND, UMass
Vermont 18 9-7-2 20 BC, Merrimack
New Hampshire 18 7-8-3 17 BU, UConn
Merrimack 18 6-7-5 17 Maine, UVM
UConn 18 6-8-4 16 Northeastern, UNH
Northeastern 18 6-9-3 15 UConn, Maine
Maine 18 4-13-1 9 Merrimack, Northeastern
UMass 19 2-16-1 5 UML (x1), PC

Provided UConn gets at least one point over the rest of the season, they will assure themselves of a top-10 finish. However, the Huskies are winless in their last four games (0-2-2) and they have won just two contests since New Year’s Day (2-6-2).

A win or two to break that streak over Northeastern, who currently sits just one point behind them in the standings, would be very beneficial.

The other Huskies are coming off a third-place finish in the 65th Beanpot after beating No. 11 Boston College at TD Garden on Monday.

Northeastern has won six of their last eight games thanks to a four-game winning streak in January. Those eight games included a weekend sweep of Merrimack, two wins over UMass and a split with UMass Lowell to go along with a 1-1 record against ranked teams in the Beanpot.

Northeastern is the type of team that scores early and often, hoping their offense can overcome their defensive weakness.

Nineteen of their 30 games on the year have featured more than seven goals, with five of those games having 10+ goals. For comparison, nine of UConn’s 30 contests have hit seven and they have made it to 10 only once (a 7-4 loss to No. 14 Ohio State).

Northeastern has the sixth-most prolific offense in the country, scoring 3.70 goals per game. They allow 3.13 goals per game, 20th-worst.

The offense is led by Hobey Baker Award candidate Zach Ashton-Reese (24-28—52). He has the title of leading point scorer in the country and holds the national lead in goals scored. Ashton-Reese has four short-handed goals, only 22 teams in the country can say they have more.

Northeastern also has Dylan Sikura (19-30—49), who is fifth in the country in points, as well as Adam Gaudette (21-24—45), who holds seventh, as key offensive weapons.

That trio holds virtually all of Northeastern’s scoring threats. No other players have more than 10 goals and only four other players have more than five. Out of 111 goals that Northeastern has scored, Ashton-Reese, Sikura and Gaudette have 57.7 percent of them.

Ryan Ruck will likely get the start in net, as he has played all but 62 minutes for Northeastern this year. He has a save percentage of .892 and a goals against average of 3.10.

Northeastern’s special teams will also pose a problem for UConn. They convert on an impressive 27.3 percent of their power play chances, good for third in the country. They have a penalty kill a notch below UConn’s 18th-best 84.7 percent as well, killing off 84.6 percent of their penalties.

The key for UConn will be to control the puck. They did not do that against Providence and the Friars’ top line torched UConn to the tune of five of Providence’s eight goals in the series, including all four in Friday’s 4-3 loss for UConn.

UConn mustered only 40 shots on Hayden Hawkey over 120 minutes of play last week. If the Huskies wants to give themselves a shot to clinch a first-round series at home, they need to send more rubber Ryan Ruck’s way this weekend.

UConn and Northeastern get their series started at the XL Center on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. The finale on Saturday will begin at 7:30 p.m. from Matthews Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.