UConn men's hockey coming down final stretch
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 22:02
With four games to play, the UConn men’s hockey team has a chance to move into the top four in the Atlantic Hockey standings as they travel to West Point, N.Y. for a two-game series this weekend with Army.
The Huskies (14-13-3, 11-10-2 AHA) are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the AHA standings with 24 points, but tiebreakers currently have them in position to be the No. 5 seed in the AHA Tournament.
Elsewhere in the AHA, third-place Mercyhurst is playing a home-and-home series against No. 16 Niagara, who are No. 10 in the PairWise Rankings, the system used to seed teams in the NCAA Tournament. If both UConn and Niagara sweep, the Huskies will climb into the top four.
A top-four finish could be a big advantage for the Huskies. Finishing in the top four earns UConn a first round bye in the AHA Tournament and home-ice advantage in the quarterfinals. Should the Huskies finish between fifth and eighth, they will have to play in the first round, but will have home-ice advantage.
The Huskies had to play on the road in the first round of last year’s tournament and lost a three-game series to Air Force. UConn wants to avoid that situation this season.
“If you get a bye, obviously that’s big, and just being at home is just so much better for the playoffs,” senior defenseman and captain Alex Gerke said.
UConn has been one of the hot sides in Atlantic Hockey lately, posting a 5-2-1 record over their last eight games. The Huskies have shown an exceptional ability to recover in big situations, particularly this past weekend, when UConn recovered from a 4-1 loss at home to Holy Cross to beat the Crusaders 4-1 the next day in Worcester, Mass. in an important position battle.
Army, meanwhile, has been struggling for most of the season. The Black Knights are winless in their last 10 games in the conference. Their last win in conference play was a 5-0 victory over Robert Morris on Jan. 4.
UConn has struggled offensively in AHA play, scoring only 59 goals, but lately the Huskies have been able to rely on outstanding goaltending from senior Matt Grogan, who has secured the starting position over senior Garrett Bartus in recent weeks. Grogan replaced Bartus in consecutive games early in the season and he rewarded Interim Head Coach David Berard’s faith in him by posting the best goals against average and save percentage in the conference.
On the offensive end, captain Sean Ambrosie, the team’s leading scorer with 26 points, is one point away from becoming the 27th player in UConn history to reach 100 career points. Since UConn became a Division I program in 1998, only four players have reached 100 points.
The Huskies and Black Knights will play tonight and tomorrow, with both games scheduled for 7:05 p.m. WHUS 91.7 FM will broadcast both games live.