UConn Hockey Classic
Ice Arena • Storrs, Conn.
Brown vs. Merrimack, 1:30 p.m. ET
Holy Cross at Connecticut, 4:30 p.m. ET
Third-Place Game, 1:30 p.m. ET
Championship Game, 4:30 p.m. ET
games and shootouts were the rule, as both semifinal games
had to be decided by penalty shots. Connecticut and Air
Force outlasted Bentley and Sacred Heart, respectively,
to reach the final, where the host Huskies prevailed, 1-0.
Freshman Scott Tomes, the tournament MVP, posted the shutout
to earn the win, with Tim Olsen providing the offensive
heroics for the second day in a row. Olsen’s terrific
tournament propelled him to a second-half scoring spree
in which he had 19 goals and 16 assists – or 85 percent
of his season point total.
year marks the most star-studded field to visit Storrs for
the holiday, with two teams from the “Big Four”
conferences and a 2004 NCAA Tournament team making appearances.
Brown and Merrimack should be warned before clearing space
in their trophy case, however – the only other Big
Four team to make an appearance, Ferris State in 2002, suffered
a stunning first-round loss. The Bulldogs entered that tournament
ranked eighth in the nation, but were stunned in overtime
by Alabama-Huntsville, which went on to take the title.
list off some incredibly talented defensemen, like Merrimack’s
Bryan Schmidt or Connecticut’s Mark Murphy, or great
goalies like Brown’s Adam D’Alba or the Holy
Cross tandem of Tony Quesada and Ben Conway.
what warms us up on cold New England afternoons is offense,
and there will be some gifts on display in this post-Christmas
affair. For Merrimack, Brent Gough should be back up to
speed after missing more than two months with a broken arm.
He’s been able to skate with the team for nearly a
month now, so his legs will still be there, and his hands
have helped him lead the team in scoring in each of his
years in a Warrior sweater.
and Holy Cross both boast talented sophomores; keep an eye
on the Bears’ Brian Ihnacak, a crafty forward who
makes up for his lack of size with a very skilled stick.
He’s got 5-2—7 totals in Brown’s current
five-game unbeaten streak. Holy Cross sophomore James Sixsmith
hasn’t been as hot lately – just one assist
in eight games – but he’s a very skilled playmaker.
He had an assist Dec. 8 against UConn and could be ready
to break out of his slump.
Huskies most dynamic player is Tim Olsen, but he’s
struggled this season with just nine points in 15 games.
Keep an eye on his linemates, Cole Koidahl and Matt Grew,
who will try to make this tournament, like last year, Olsen’s
launching pad for a great second half.
WE SEE IT
two Atlantic Hockey entries are playing back-to-back games
against each other—albeit three weeks apart. In their
appearance in Worcester before the break, the teams tied,
2-2, fitting since both are playing their best hockey of
the season right now. UConn has goaltender Scott Tomes back
from an ACL injury he suffered in the first weekend of the
season against Rensselaer. Holy Cross’ turnaround
began at another holiday tournament—the Dunkin’
Donuts Coffee Pot over Thanksgiving weekend, when the Crusaders
beat Union for third place. They are 3-0-1 since.
Hockey win here would still be an upset, however, even though
the ECACHL and Hockey East invitees aren’t among the
strongest in those leagues. Fact is, they are both playing
some of their best hockey at the moment as well. Brown is
4-0-1 since freshman Adam D’Alba emerged as the answer
in goal, and Merrimack is as healthy as it’s been
since the start of the season. The winner of this one will
be the favorite on New Year’s Eve, and it will probably
come down to whether the Warriors can generate goals against