UConn men's hockey takes on Army at Freitas
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 23:12
The UConn men’s hockey team will look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing performance when they host Atlantic Hockey Association foe, Army, tonight at the Freitas Ice Forum.
The Huskies (4-7-1, 3-6-0 AHA) seemed to be on the verge of breaking out prior to last weekend’s two-game series against Canisius. Going into the weekend, UConn had won four of its last five games under the direction of Assistant Coach David Berard, who is serving as the interim head coach while Bruce Marshall is on medical leave.
After UConn completed a sweep of defending AHA champions Air Force for the first time in program history on an overtime goal from senior captain Sean Ambrosie, it looked like nothing could stop the Huskies. But despite dominating for the better part of both games against Canisius, UConn could only manage one goal against goaltender Tony Capobianco, who looked like Jonathan Quick between the pipes.
“We tried to get traffic in front of [Capobianco] and tried to get a crowd in front and work it down low. Everything we talked about the guys did,” Berard said after Saturday’s loss, upset with the result and not his team’s performance.
The one disappointment besides the two results was goaltender Garrett Bartus. UConn’s all-time wins leader played a good game on Friday in a 3-0 loss. Bartus was fairly beaten on the first goal, but the second was a shot from the blue line that deflected off multiple skates before slipping by him. Canisius’ third goal came on an empty net when the Huskies were playing six skaters to try and get two goals back.
On Saturday, Bartus struggled, allowing two goals on eight shots in a game UConn eventually lost 3-1. Berard thought that both goals were avoidable and that it was just an off night for Bartus, which lead to the decision to pull him in the second period in favor of Matt Grogan, who made six saves when he came in.
Despite Grogan’s solid play, it is expected that Bartus will start between the pipes for the Huskies tonight.
A big decision that Berard has been faced with throughout the week is who to play on the fourth line. Two different fourth lines were deployed last weekend. On Friday, the line of Patrick Kirtland, Joe Budnick and Joey Ferriss was unsurprisingly used as the trio has been a regular inclusion on the game day line chart all season.
On Saturday, however, Berard decided to change things up, using a younger line consisting of Joe Birmingham, Brad Smith and Tyler Bouchard. The change paid off, and Bouchard netted his first goal of the season, with Smith and Birmingham getting the assists.
Berard showered the three with praise after their performance on Saturday and said that he would evaluate all of his lines throughout the week, but that there is a good chance of seeing Birmingham, Smith and Bouchard against Army.
The Black Knights (5-6-1, 5-2-1 AHA) enter the game in third place in the conference with 11 points, five points ahead of the ninth-place Huskies. UConn’s defense will have to keep an eye on Army forward Andy Starczewski, who has been one of the top players in the AHA so far this season with five goals, 10 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus five.
The puck drops in tonight’s game at 7:05 p.m. WHUS will have a live broadcast of the game.