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UConn men’s hockey preview: No. 20 Boston University

The Huskies close their series with the Terriers.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey is now a winner of six consecutive games and are 11-6-0 since Nov. 18 after they matched a streak last reached in 2001-02 with their 4-2 win over then-No. 11 Northeastern on Friday. That streak is tied with No. 5 Minnesota State’s for the longest active one in the nation.

Spencer Naas (9-10—19) has a point in all six of those games and Tanner Creel has done fabulously to replace Adam Huska since he sprained his wrist. The redshirt senior is 6-1-0 and was last week’s Hockey East defensive player of the week honor.

UConn is still holding on to sixth place in Hockey East and are two points out of a first-round bye. With New Hampshire’s loss on Wednesday as well as UMass’ defeat Thursday, they also clinched at least a hosting spot in the first round. The Wildcats can tie them, but UConn holds the tiebreaker due their sweep over New Hampshire.

Hockey East Standings

Team Games Played Record Points Points per game
Team Games Played Record Points Points per game
Boston College 21 15-6-0 30 1.43
Providence 21 11-6-4 26 1.24
Northeastern 20 11-6-3 25 1.25
Boston University 20 10-7-3 23 1.15
Maine 21 10-8-3 23 1.10
UConn 22 10-11-1 21 0.95
UMass Lowell 20 10-10-0 20 1.00
Vermont 20 6-9-5 17 0.85
New Hampshire 21 5-11-5 15 0.71
UMass 22 7-13-2 15 0.68
Merrimack 20 5-13-2 12 0.60

The Huskies will play their penultimate regular season game on Friday when they welcome No. 20 Boston University (15-12-3, 10-7-3 Hockey East) to town to complete the teams’ three-game set.

The two sides played a home-and-home series in October when the then-No. 7 Terriers took three points out of the weekend, taking a victory at the XL Center on Saturday after Friday’s tie at Agganis Arena.

As such, this contest will determine if Boston University will get the head-to-head tiebreaker over UConn or whether they will go to the second tiebreaker No. 2 if the teams finish tied in the standings.

The Terriers lost their last time out in the Beanpot final to No. 12 Northeastern, but that was their first loss since Jan. 6 to Maine, a stretch of nine straight games without a loss (7-0-2).

Boston University will be without their second-leading scorer and assists leader Jordan Greenway (9-16—25) due to his selection to the 2018 United States Olympic roster, but the Terriers still have plenty of firepower in Bobo Carpenter (17-11—28), who leads the team in points and goals, helped out by a hat-trick the last time he was on the XL Center ice against the Huskies.

Shane Bowers (16-9—25) also has lit the lamp more than 15 times, helping lead a team that has the nation’s 12th-best offense (3.17 goals per game) and a 23.1 percent conversion rate on the power play (10th in NCAA). UConn allows 2.75 goals per game (25th-best) and kills a 16th-best 83.3 percent of their penalties.

Defensively, Jake Oettinger has gotten a strong majority of time in net and projects to be between the pipes on Friday. He owns a .908 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Oettinger anchors a defense that is not as statistically as strong as its offense, but they are still above average- 26th in team defense (2.77 goals per game). However, they struggle on the penalty kill, with the nation’s sixth-worst kill rate (77.1 percent). UConn scores 2.75 goals per game (38th) and scores on 19.4 percent of their power plays (26th).

UConn and Boston University will get it going at the XL Center on Friday at 7:05 p.m. It will be broadcast on ESPN3 and WTIC 1080 AM.