UConn splits series with Holy Cross
The UConn men's hockey team split its weekend series with Holy Cross, maintaining its position in the Atlantic Hockey Association standings.
The Huskies (14-3-3, 11-10-2 AHA) remain in fifth place in the AHA with four games to go. If the Huskies are able to hold the position, they will receive home-ice advantage in the first round of the conference tournament, which is set to begin on Mach 8.
UConn went into the weekend series feeling good. They were the hottest team in the conference, posting a 4-1-1 record over their previous six games and were coming off a 9-0 win over Bentley on Monday night.
The hot streak came to an end on Friday, as Holy Cross handed UConn a 4-1 loss. The Huskies looked flat from the opening whistle, and were unable to capitalize on a number of quality scoring chances.
The Crusaders got the scoring started about halfway through the first period when UConn goaltender Matt Grogan went behind the net to clear the puck, but he put it right on the stick of Adam Schmidt, who tapped it into the open net to give Holy Cross a 1-0 lead.
UConn would get the goal back just before the intermission, when a shot from the point by Brant Harris was tipped in front by Jordan Sims and into the net to send the teams into the locker room on level terms.
From the beginning of the second period on it was all Holy Cross. The Huskies were unable to capitalize in the offensive end and the Crusaders put three more past Grogan in a 4-1 Holy Cross win.
"We definitely weren't as mentally prepared as we think we should have been," Harris said. "We had a couple of mental mistakes that led to their goals. It's definitely something we have to sharpen up on."
The Huskies recovered on Saturday night, ensuring a split of the points from the weekend with a 4-1 win.
UConn never trailed during the game, and took a permanent lead only three minutes into the game, when Brant Harris became the first Husky to reach 10 goals this season.
Billy Latta scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period and Brad Smith and Patrick Kirtland added goals late in the third period to seal the win.
The Huskies still have a lot of work to do. Four games remain before the conference tournament. UConn need to keep playing the hockey they have been playing all month, as the difference between fifth place and ninth place is only two points. A ninth place finish or lower would result in the Huskies playing on the road in the first round of the tournament.
"If you get a bye, obviously that's big, and just being at home is just so much better for the playoffs," captain Alex Gerke said.
The schedule is favorable for the Huskies. Next weekend they will be in West Point, N.Y. for two games with 10th-place Army. The last weekend of the season will be a home-and-home series with Sacred Heart, who are 0-26-2 overall this season.
Prior to this weekend, UConn had moved away from the physical play that had kept it in big games throughout the season. The team will need to get back to that grinding style of hockey if it wants to be successful in the final four games and the tournament.
"That's the way we play," Interim Head Coach David Berard said. "We want to be physical. We want to be aggressive and be able to skate and pursue and get in on teams."
UConn's matchups against Army are scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Both games will begin at 7:05 p.m. and will be aired live on WHUS 91.7 FM.
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