Saturday, January 25, 2020

Weekend Preview: UConn Huskies @ Connecticut Ice

Quinnipiac plays in the first ever Connecticut Ice Tournament this weekend

UConn Head Coach: David Berard (6th season)

2019-2020 UConn record: 6-11-5 (5-10-3 Atlantic Hockey)

All-time vs. UConn: Quinnipiac leads series 19-11-2

UConn Key Players: Vladislav Firstov (F), Ruslan Iskhakov (F), Jachym Kondelik (F), Benjamin Freeman (F), Carter Turnbull (F), Wyatt Newpower (D), Yan Kuznetsov (D) Carter Berger (D), Tomas Vomacka (G)

UConn has been an up and down team under 7th year coach Mike Cavanaugh. The Huskies have just one winning season during his time in Storrs and that was in his first season. Despite getting some talented players they have yet to put it all together. Part of it is the fact they don't have a home rink on campus which is hurting them now. Cavanaugh is a good recruiter but I am not so sure if he's a great in game coach because the results have not shown with the talent that he has.

Up front the Huskies have a bunch of talent in Russians Vladislav Firstov (16 points) and Ruslan Iskhakov (15 points). Both are NHL second round picks. Senior Benjamin Freeman lead the team with 11 assists. Sophomores Jachym Kondelik and Carter Turnbull have 14 and 12 points respectively. With the amount of talent they have up front this is an offense that should be scoring more than 2.78 goals per game which is 30th in the country. The Huskies also have a brutal power play at 15.4% which is 47th in the country.

The defense of the Huskies has been a train wreck this season and part of that is due to having a ton of youth back there. UConn is giving up 3.30 goals per game which is 51st in the country. Its surprising considering the talent they have back there in 4th round pick Carter Berger and Yan Kuznetsov a top prospect for the 2020 draft. But with six of the eight defensemen on the roster underclassmen struggles were likely expected. UConn also boosts one of the worst penalty kill units in the country at 74.7% which is 56th nationally.

UConn was hoping that goaltender Tomas Vomacka would improve upon his impressive freshman season in which he had a 2.32 goals against and a .922 save percentage. But that has been far from the case this year as Vomacka has really struggled for the Huskies. The 2017 5th round pick of the Nashville Predators has a 3.37 goals against average which is more than a goal than he let up last season. Its his save percentage that is very considering at .893 down. UConn was expecting him to cover up for a young defense and he really has been the opposite of that. The talent of Vomacka is there, he just needs to show it on a consistent basis

Based on where Quinnipiac is in the pairwise rankings at the moment, 17th, its imperative that not only do they beat UConn, they win the Connecticut Ice Tournament as they can ill afford mediocre to bad losses at this point in the season.

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