How to watch
When: Sunday, March 14, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Freitas Ice Forum, Storrs, CT
Stream: SportsLive (No log-in required)
Radio: UConn Sports Network (97.9 ESPN and affiliates)
How they got here
UConn was one of just two schools to start the regular season on time. The Huskies opened the year against UMass and needed four periods to get their legs under them after a “fractured” preseason, as Cavanaugh described it.
Then, various postponements and cancelations kept UConn sidelined for three weeks before it returned to face No. 2 Boston College. Though the Huskies fell in OT on the road, they earned a 3-1 win at home to pick up their first victory of the season.
UConn went 2-3 over its next five games before it was forced to pause all team activities due to a positive COVID test on Jan. 6. Luckily, that proved to be a false positive and the Huskies returned to action against UNH on Jan. 15. With Vladislav Firstov and Yan Kuznetsov back from the World Junior Championships, UConn’s offense exploded with 14 goals against the Wildcats, tying the program’s Hockey East record for the most scored in back-to-back games.
That sparked a 5-1-1 stretch for the Huskies with the tie and loss both coming at the hands of No. 1 Boston College. UMass Lowell snapped that win streak with a 3-2 overtime win which subsequently sent UConn on a four-game losing skid. The Huskies finally broke out of the slump with a gutsy win over Maine before taking down Providence in the regular season finale.
The Friars, meanwhile, opened the regular season with a brutal weekend against Boston College in which they fell by a combined score of 12-0 over the two games. Overall, they went 10-8-2 across the campaign and finished in fifth place behind UConn.
The two teams first met back on Dec. 28 when UConn earned a hard-fought 2-0 win behind goals from Adam Karashik and Jonny Evans.
The Huskies made the return trip to Providence on Feb. 12 and had one of their worst performances of the season in a 5-0 defeat.
They faced each other again in the regular season finale with UConn earning a convincing 5-0 win to lock up the fourth seed.
UConn will be without freshman forward Nick Capone, who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury. The Huskies are expected to have everyone else available.
Players to watch
Jonny Evans — Forward: UConn’s first-ever Hockey East First Team All-Star selection and a Hobey Baker Award candidate, Evans is the league’s top scorer at 14 goals and 28 points. He’s recorded three of the Huskies’ seven hat tricks in the program’s Hockey East Era, including a four-goal game against Merrimack this season. When Evans scores, the Huskies are 7-2-1.
Tomas Vomacka — Goaltender: Vomacka has played every second between the pipes for UConn and has been a crucial part of the team’s success this season. He’s faced more shots than any other goaltender in Hockey East (682) but still spots a 2.70 goals against average and .918 save percentage.
Carter Turnbull — Forward: Turnbull leads the conference with 88 shots on goal and is second on the team with nine goals but he’s found the back of the net just once over his last eight games. If anyone on the Huskies is primed for a breakout in the playoffs, it’s Turnbull.
Tyce Thompson — Forward: The younger brother of former UConn star Tage Thompson, Tyce leads Providence with 10 goals, 12 assists and 22 points on the season. He’s one of the most dangerous players in the country and will be a handful for the Huskies’ defense to contain.