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UConn Men’s Hockey Weekend Preview: New Hampshire

In order to host a first-round series, the Huskies need to sweep and get some help.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Live Updates- Saturday:

First Period:

0:00- and the game is on! Rob Nichols gets the start in net on Senior Night, with Brian Morgan, Max Kalter and Evan Richardson is the forward line. Joseph Masonius and Philip Nyberg is the defensive pairing.

3:38- Max Kalter collects a rebound and roofed it. 1-0 UConn!

10:36- Liam Blackburn answered with a shot from the slot. 1-1 tie.

12:21- Liam Blackburn gets called for hooking.

13:41- and UConn makes them pay! Tage Thompson has an open side of the net after a nice pass from Letunov. 2-1 Huskies.

14:02- New Hampshire heads up a man as Spencer Naas heads to the box.

15:52- a funny goal, but a goal nonetheless. Tyler Kelleher gets credit and we are tied again.

20:00- UConn leads 11-to-7 in shots after 20 minutes and we are tied.

Second Period:

0:00- and the period is on!

4:19- wow. Evan Richardson shows off the mitts and scores on Senior Night. 3-2 UConn.

7:13- Dylan Chanter trips and he goes to the box. UConn is 1-for-1 tonight.

9:13- it was a good power play but UConn could not shove one home. 3-2 they lead.

9:41- David Drake skates to the box. New Hampshire is 1-for-1 tonight.

11:41- UConn was the better team on that power play and they were down a man.

12:55- Jesse Schwartz off for contact to the head.

14:55- Huskies kill that one off.

17:52- Frankie Cefalu hooks and he goes to the box. UConn is 1-for-2 and has looked really good.

19:35- Philip Nyberg and Liam Blackburn off on incidental minors. Five-on-four here.

20:00- UConn leads New Hampshire, 3-2. Huskies could use some help from Vermont, who is tied with Merrimack in Burlington.

Third Period:

0:00- and the final period is on!

13:00- no penalties to report and no dangerous chances either side. UConn up in shots 9-to-2 and still have a strangehold, but haven't been as dangerous.

19:17- empty-netter for Corey Ronan.

20:00- and that'll do it. UConn will head to Northeastern for the first round of Hockey East playoffs.

Live Updates- Friday:

First Period:

0:00- and the game is on! Adam Huska will be in net, with David Drake and Derek Pratt on defense. Karl El-Mir, Maxim Letunov and Tage Thompson are the forwards.

0:15- goal New Hampshire. On the initial rush after the face-off, Jason Salvaggio has his 21st of the year.

2:41- Joe Masonius takes a really obvious hooking call.

5:51- Thompson! He scores on a scramble and it is tied up.

10:13- Kasperi Ojantakanen scores a nice goal. Freeman had the puck behind the net and found the junior for a one-timer. UConn hadn't led since the Merrimack series.

14:02- Chris Miller off for hooking. UConn gets their first opportunity.

19:31- Maxim Letunov takes a late penalty, for hooking.

20:00- a great period for UConn, one of their best 20-minute efforts in awhile.

Second Period:

0:00- and the period is on! Let's see if UConn can hold their lead, with Merrimack and Northeastern each trailing in their contests.

1:31- Letunov comes out. UNH is 0-for-3 on the power play tonight and haven't looked particularly great.

3:06- UConn gets their second chance on the power play, Matias Cleland off for holding.

16:01- Evan Richardson off for slashing. UNH is 0-for-3 and gets a fourth chance.

18:20- nice, nice goal and Spencer Naas makes it 3-1 on a pass from Kasperi Ojantakanen.

20:00- great period from the Huskies. They added to their lead, got more shots on net and took fewer penalties.

Third Period:

0:00- and the period is on! Let's see if the Huskies can hold on at Whittemore Center.

2:00- Johnny Austin guilty of a tripping call and UNH will get their fifth chance. 0-for-4 so far.

7:29- Tyler Kelleher off for tripping.

8:54- 4-1! Philip Nyberg with the nice shot.

11:55- Tage Thompson gets called for slashing. 0-for-5 for UNH.

12:30- 4-2 Huskies. Tyler Kelleher's knuckle-puck goes in.

12:28- goal UNH but it is getting reviewed.

Good goal.

20:00- UConn wins! If Vermont gets a victory, combined with a UConn win, UConn will host.

Preview:

It all comes down to this. There is one weekend to go and after the Huskies’ free fall down the standings their chances to host have all but evaporated.

Hockey East Standings

Team Games Played Record Points Remaining Opponents
Team Games Played Record Points Remaining Opponents
Boston College 21 13-5-3 29 @UML
UMass-Lowell 21 13-7-1 27 BC
Boston University 20 12-5-3 27 ND, ND
Notre Dame 20 11-5-4 26 @BU, BU
Providence 20 10-7-3 23 @UMass, UMass
Vermont 20 9-7-4 22 Merrimack, Merrimack
Merrimack 20 7-7-6 20 @UVM, @UVM
Northeastern 20 8-9-3 19 @Maine, @Maine
New Hampshire 20 7-9-4 18 UConn, @UConn
UConn 20 6-10-4 16 @UNH, UNH
Maine 20 4-14-2 10 Northeastern, Northeasern
UMass 20 2-17-1 5 PC, @PC

UConn could finish as high as seventh, but the more likely scenarios put them outside of the top-eight, forcing them to travel throughout the Hockey East playoffs.

UConn Finishes Seventh if...

UConn goes 2-0-0 AND Merrimack goes 0-2-0 AND Northeastern goes 0-2-0 (UConn would tie Merrimack and win the tiebreaker)

UConn Finishes Eighth if...

UConn goes 2-0-0 AND Merrimack goes 0-2-0 OR Northeastern goes 0-2-0

UConn Finishes Ninth if...

UConn goes 2-0-0 AND Merrimack gets a point AND Northeastern gets a point

UConn goes 1-0-1

UConn Finishes 10th if...

UConn goes 1-1-0

UConn goes 0-1-1

UConn goes 0-2-0

UConn goes 0-0-2

Essentially, if Northeastern and Merrimack both get anything against Maine and Vermont, respectively, then UConn will be traveling. No matter what happens, the Huskies will be playing one of Northeastern, Merrimack or New Hampshire in their first-round, best-of-three series.

In order to give themselves a shot to stay at the XL Center in the first weekend of March, the Huskies need to get a sweep against New Hampshire.

"New Hampshire is always a dangerous team," head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

Last year, UConn was in a similar scenario, where they needed to sweep the Wildcats on the final weekend in order to secure hosting privileges. They did it, winning on Senior Night, 4-1 to get it going.

In the second game at Whittemore Center, UConn fell down 2-0 within the first eight minutes. The Huskies needed a three-goal third period just to force overtime and triumphed after a great Corey Ronan goal to win in dramatic fashion, 5-4.

Heading into the series this year, the Wildcats are in the same boat as UConn. The two teams are an identical 1-7-2 in their last 10 games, with each team getting their win against Vermont.

"I don’t see many teams that are successful limping into the playoffs," Cavanaugh said. "We have to be initiating the tempo of the game as opposed to sitting back. We have to play aggressively."

The Huskies are not focused on hosting a first-round series, however. They are focused on winning.

"It was great to host last year, but we got swept," Cavanaugh said. "I wanna win a first-round series. I don’t care whether it’s at home or on the road."

The Wildcats are strong on the power play. They have the nation’s seventh-best power play, scoring on 22.8 percent of their opportunities.

"Our penalty kill is solid, but we have to make teams pay on the power play," Cavanaugh said.

When UConn is on the man advantage, it will be weakness on weakness as UConn’s unit is in the bottom half of the country, scoring on 16.3 percent of their power plays while New Hampshire is 20th-worst, killing off just 80.7 percent of its penalties.

The Wildcats are led offensively by senior forward Tyler Kelleher (20-37—57), who leads the team in all three offensive categories; goals, assists and points.

"He’s very much like Dylan Sikura at Northeastern," Cavanaugh said. "He’s at 57 points and sees the play before he gets the puck. He is a great hockey player."

Junior forward Jason Salvaggio (20-11—31) is tied with Kelleher in goals and freshman Patrick Grasso (17-11—28) is not far behind.

Senior defenseman Matias Cleland (2-30—32) and junior forward Michael McNicholas (11-24—35) round out the top three in assists for New Hampshire.

It’s likely that UConn will see junior Daniel Tirone again, the man who was in net last year. The Trumbull, Connecticut native has gotten the starting nod 30 of 32 opportunities this year, posting a save percentage of .907 and a goals against average of 2.98.

The Huskies and Wildcats will get it going in Durham, New Hampshire at 7 p.m. on Friday night while Senior Night at the XL Center will have a 7:35 p.m. puck drop Saturday evening.