Men's hockey takes No. 8 Union to the edge at home
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 28, 2012 23:10
The goal of any team going into a game is to win, but for UConn’s men’s hockey team head cach Bruce Marshall, Saturday’s 2-2 tie with No. 8 Union at the Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs was a result that they are more than pleased with.
“I thought our effort was tremendous,” Marshall said. “I think they gave it their all out there tonight. They competed. They were blocking shots. We had done some things in the first two games where we kind of took ourselves out of games where tonight I feel like we corrected some of those things and gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game, even though we’ve been in every game we’ve played, so to speak, but this was more of a solid, true effort to be able to win games.”
“I thought we played a great team game tonight,” senior captain Sean Ambrosie said. “It was probably one of the best team games I’ve played in my four years. We took one dumb penalty and we had one breakdown on a faceoff but other than that I think we played a pretty complete game…It’s a big momentum gainer for us especially coming after two losses. Obviously tying a good team like this is always a plus.”
Union came into the game ranked No. 8 in the nation, after losing their opening game to Merrimack on Oct. 6. They then defeated Bowling Green on consecutive days and went into Saturday’s game coming off an 8-0 victory over UConn’s conference rival American International College.
The Dutchmen had started the year as the No. 5 team in the nation having made it all the way to the Frozen Four, the first trip in school history, in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
It is not often that UConn gets the opportunity to play a team that reached college hockey’s ultimate stage the year before, but they made the most of their opportunity and showed that they have the ability to play against virtually anybody.
“We have a lot of talent in our locker room,” Ambrosie said. “If we play our systems, we can go out and compete with anyone in the country.”
“Like I told the guys, I don’t think we dove into the swimming pool today, but we got our feet in the water like we’re walking into the ocean and we’re gonna keep getting out into deeper water. At least now, we’re taking a stride to get a little deeper into the water.”
The one thing that has looked like it could cripple the Huskies this season is their power play unit. UConn was No. 3 in the nation during the 2011-12 season, scoring on 38 of their 147 opportunities with at least a one-man advantage (25.9 percent success rate). Through three games, the Huskies are 1-17 so far this season with a total of 13 shots on goal in those 17 attempts.
On Saturday, the Huskies could not even get a shot off on three attempts. However, Marshall is not concerned and thinks that the power play unit will hit its stride in time.
“Those things are streaky. You could get three [power play goals] one night and all of a sudden your power play percentage goes from nine to 18 [percent]. A good power play is like 25 percent or 20 percent and that’s 1-5. So that’s still four times you got snuffed on it during the night. It’ll come. I thought they moved the puck well. I thought we contained it in there well and they created some stuff and if you do that you’re making teams a little nervous so I thought we got better on that than as opposed to last night.”
If the Huskies can continue to play the way they did against Union and find a way to start putting pucks in the net on a more consistent basis, especially on the power play, there is no telling how far this team can go.