This Thanksgiving weekend, Mike Cavanaugh’s UConn Huskies are in Belfast, Northern Ireland for some international #cawlidgehawkey, with the Belpot Trophy on the line in this year’s Friendship Four.
On Friday night, UConn will take on BU at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, which will be televised on NESN. On Saturday, depending on their result, they’ll face either Yale or Union at a time to be determined. That game will be available on NESNPlus, ESPN+, and TSN.
The Huskies enter the tournament with a 5-6-1 record, but just 2-5-1 in Hockey East play. In five games last year against BU, UConn went 1-1-1 during the regular season but suffered a two-game sweep at the hands of the Terriers’ in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. In addition to this game, these two teams will meet for a home-and-away series February 15-16.
So far this year, BU is 3-5-1 overall, 3-3-1 in Hockey East. Defenseman Dante Fabbro leads the team with 11 points (3 g, 8a) and forward Bobo Carpenter is the team’s leading goal scorer with six to go along with three assists. Junior Jake Oettinger is the starter in net. He has a 3.09 GAA and a save percentage of .904, both are 10th out of 11 in Hockey East.
The Huskies’ netminder Adam Huska is a bit more stout, sitting 4th in save percentage and 7th in GAA. He’s been key to the Huskies’ competitiveness as they look for consistency in their attack.
This young UConn team is getting a lot of production from its freshman class, which has a combined eight goals and 30 assists, with 11 of those helpers coming from Jachym Kondelik. His 11 points are first on the team, just ahead of junior Alexander Payusov, the team’s leading goal scorer with eight to go along with two assists.
The Huskies are in the middle of a rough stretch and looking to turn things around after getting swept by UMass Lowell and losing four of their last five.
“The result was very disappointing, but at times we played some of our best hockey,” Cavanaugh said. “You can’t confuse effort with results... even though I thought we played pretty well.”
This is the fourth ever Friendship Four, with Hockey East teams taking the crown in two of the previous iterations: UMass Lowell in 2015 and Vermont in 2016. Clarkson, of the ECAC, won last year. Neither UConn nor BU are particularly strong this season, and neither is Yale, but Union is currently ranked in the top-15.
Still, anything can happen in this great, beautiful sport.