Huskies in a four way tie for fourth place in AHA
Following their weekend split with Holy Cross the University of Connecticut men's hockey team sits in a three-way tie for fourth place with just four games left in the regular season.
UConn's final four games feature an all-away series with 10th place Army and a home-and-home series with Connecticut rival and last place Sacred Heart.
On paper, this relatively easy schedule puts UConn in good contention to grab an extremely important top-four finish in the Atlantic Hockey Association.
In the AHA conference tournament, the top four regular season finishers enjoy a bye into the quarterfinals and home ice advantage when they do enter the tournament.
UConn knows how important both those advantages can be. Last season, UConn fell to the #1 seed Air Force in the third and final game of a series in which Air Force won their two home matches.
Despite the quantified importance of a top four finish, UConn interim head coach David Berard says confidence and understanding could prove to be more important.
"We want to just play the best hockey we can and try to go into the playoffs with confidence, and understanding how we need to [play] in order to have success and obviously we want to try to get home ice whether it's in the top four or five through eight," said Berard.
Coach Berard's players certainly know how much is on the line the final two weeks of the regular season.
Senior defenseman Alex Gerke highlighted the physical play as an important factor come the end of a season.
"Every season, whatever level you play at, you know, you get down to the grind of the year, towards the playoffs, it starts getting more physical, more chippy out there. It's just the game," said Gerke.
Gerke and Junior forward Brant Harris both spoke of the importance of home ice advantage.
"It's huge. I think we play pretty well at our ice, and not only that but traveling to other teams rinks is harder on the legs and just more uncomfortable compared to playing at home," said Harris.
"It's huge, I mean if you get a bye obviously it's big, and being at home is so much better for the playoffs," said Gerke.
Instead of focusing on home ice and its importance Coach Berard chose to talk about his teams level of play, and how important that is.
"Once you get into the playoffs there's a lot of good teams and if you're playing your best hockey, you're going to give yourself a good chance to win, no matter who you play," said Berrard.
The University of Connecticut men's hockey team takes on Army twice this weekend in West Point, New York before heading home to play a home-and-home series with Sacred Heart.
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