UConn men’s hockey looks to bounce back at Northeastern

In three weeks of the season, UConn’s men’s hockey underperformed. The Huskies sit below 0.500 with a 2-3-0 record and have just been swept away by an Ohio State team picked to finish last in the Big Ten Conference.

If there’s one saving grace to UConn’s slow start, it’s that the team have been competitive in their three losses.

Against BU, the Huskies led for 54 minutes before allowing two late goals en route to a 2-1 loss. In the series at Ohio State, UConn lost a 3-0 lead in the final 30 minutes, rebounded to dominate overtime 3 on 3 but allowed a game-winning goal with 3.6 seconds left. The following night, the Huskies trailed off at the start of the final period, but ultimately lost 3-0 after an empty net.

The losses – although difficult to swallow – were not daunting.

“I think we played pretty well. There was no game where we couldn’t have won the game, ”said head coach Mike Cavanaugh. “There wasn’t a game where we were like, ‘Oh, we had no chance of winning this game. This team was much better than we were tonight. So from that point of view, it’s encouraging.

This does not take anything away from the Huskies. UConn has been fortunate enough to win every game but has to resolve some recurring issues. In five games, the Huskies have not failed to exploit the full potential of the talents of this formation.

“I don’t think collectively we really played our best,” Cavanaugh said.

UConn will look to change that when he travels to Boston for a Tuesday night clash against the No.20 Northeast Huskies. UConn has had 10 days to rest and work on some of the more lingering issues, namely scoring. .

A disappearing offense was the main culprit in each of the three losses. Against BU, UConn scored once early and couldn’t find the back of the net the rest of the game. At Ohio State, the Huskies scored three goals Friday night before the Buckeyes retired their goaltender and the replacement knocked out UConn in the next 90 minutes.

The offense has had plenty of chances – the Huskies have recorded at least 30 shots on goal in every loss – they just aren’t executing. As Cavanaugh explained, there are three ways to score: out of the run, with offensive zone play, and on the power play.

UConn’s offense has been dangerous all season. Vladislav Firstov scored two goals in transition and the Huskies had plenty of breakaway opportunities in Game 2 at Ohio State. While these are some of the highest odds a team can get, they are also not a reliable strategy for a consistent offense.

“A breakaway is good. I love having them, but it’s like relying on the home run ball. If you just rely on the home ball, there will be games where you don’t score, ”Cavanaugh said. “[If] you don’t score on that breakaway, usually it’s a and it’s done. Now they are going the other way.

UConn really struggled to produce in the attacking zone and the power play, which can go hand in hand. The Huskies get a lot of shots on goal, but often it wasn’t that hard for the goalie to stop.

“We can’t just rely on the power play to score goals and you can’t just rely on your play in the attacking zone. You can’t just rely on scoring out of the race, ”Cavanaugh said. “You have to be a dangerous team in all three of these areas, and this is something that we continue to work on.”

With a week off over the weekend, Cavanaugh and his staff focused on the dirty work in goal – looking away from the goalie, creating traffic and generating rebounds.

“It’s being tenacious in net,” Cavanaugh said. “We like to thrive on multiple shootouts in the attacking zone. “

As for the power play, UConn has converted on 2/16 occasions, which ranks him 38th out of 50 nationally. The unit has dealt with many of the same issues as the Huskies’ zone play – a lack of traffic or bouncing – and also has some that are specific to the power play.

“I think maybe we’re trying to make the perfect play instead of just putting the pucks in the net and smashing them from there,” Cavanaugh said. after the second loss to Ohio State.

Scoring isn’t the only area the Huskies need to improve on either. UConn was too strong with the puck, especially in the neutral zone. This is something Cavanaugh felt the team needed to improve after the season opener against Sacred Heart and mentioned again ahead of Tuesday’s game with Northeastern.

“I thought we needed to tighten up a bit in the neutral zone,” he said. “You never want to give the good teams – whether it’s Ohio State, whether it’s the Northeast – a lot of speed to get into your zone. It becomes difficult to defend them that way.

On the plus side, the penalty kill was excellent, limiting the opponents to two goals on 17 occasions. Goalkeeper Darion Hanson, while not perfect, gave them a chance to win every night.

It helps that Cavanaugh is steadfastly optimistic and has said he focuses more on performance than the result. As long as the team plays as it should, the victories will follow. UConn has a deep and talented group of attackers. Cavanaugh wants them to focus on performance, not the result.

“We have guys who are playing pretty well, but we just haven’t put in numbers,” he said. “I think we have to avoid panicking and trying to cheat to get numbers and just keep playing really well and engage in this process because that will, over time, be beneficial to us. It’s going to work.”

“Play the game the right way and the hockey gods will take care of you.” “

Injury report

Forwards Cassidy Bowes (upper body injury) and Hudson Schandor (leg) as well as goalkeeper Logan Terness (ankle) have already been excluded from Tuesday’s game. Cavanaugh also mentioned that “a few other guys” will be making decisions during the game, although he declined to name those players.

Terness has missed the last four games after turning his ankle in training on October 6 while Bowes will miss his third straight game. Schandor left UConn’s last game at Ohio State after cutting himself with his own skate, but luckily avoided a more serious injury.

“We were actually very lucky. He cut with his own skate so we had to do some stitches but luckily he missed an artery, ”Cavanaugh said. “I don’t know if he’ll be back for Dartmouth, it could be pretty aggressive. We’ll see. Hope I will bring him back to Maine.

How to watch

Dated: Tuesday October 26

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Site: Matthew Arena, Boston, MA

TV: NESN

Diffusion: NESN.com (in New England) | CollegeSportsLive.com (excluding New England)


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