Connecticut Ice Arena, Storrs, Conn., Dec. 28-29
Air Force vs. Sacred Heart, 2 ET Sunday
Bentley at Connecticut, 5:15 ET Sunday
Consolation, 2 ET Monday
Championship, 5:15 ET Monday
Air Force (7-8-1)
Players to Watch: F Spanky Leonard, Sr. (6-9–15); G Mike Polidor, Sr. (6-7-1, 2.90, .893).
Noteable: Air Force and Sacred Heart have played just twice and the Falcons have won both games. … Freshman Theo Zacour was named the CHA rookie of the week for his performance in the Findlay series, Dec. 5-6. After being held scoreless in Friday’s 1-1 overtime tie, Zacour tallied three points in Air Force’s 5-2 win over the Oilers. … Air Force’s 20-game CHA winless skid ended with the team’s 5-2 win over Findlay, Dec. 6. … AFA won the UConn Tournament in 2001-02. The Falcons claimed their first ever Division I tournament championship and also their first ever road tournament title. … Air Force has not scored on 24 straight power plays dating back to Nov. 22, and ranks last in the CHA in that category.
Players to Watch: F Paul Makarian, Soph. (6-3–9); D Seth Vinocur, Jr. (0-8–8).
Noteable: Bentley comes in winless in its last 11 games. … Last season, Bentley had its first double-digit win campaign since entering Atlantic Hockey in 1999-2000. It was also recent Bentley graduate Ryan Soderquist’s first year on the job. … Leading scorer Paul Markarian has five of his team-high six goals on the power play. … Goaltender Simon St. Pierre has seen his goals against average and save percentage improve from last year, but the rest of the team has struggled offensively, and after going 15-18 last season, he’s just 1-7-3 so far this year. St. Pierre also had four shutouts last season, but oddly, none this season despite the better numbers.
Players to Watch: F Brett McLaughlin, Jr. (6-6–12); F Chris Uber, Soph. (4-7–11).
Noteable: Connecticut lists 15 freshmen on its roster, including No. 1 goalie Scott Tomes and three of its top five leading scorers. … The Huskies are coming off a loss to Vermont, where they blew a 3-0 lead to lose 4-3 in overtime. UConn tied ECAC opponent RPI, 4-4, in a game early this season. … Connecticut has been hurt by special teams. It is seventh in Atlantic Hockey on the power play, and eighth in penalty killing.
Sacred Heart (4-8-1)
Players to Watch: LW Mike Reagan, Sr. (5-6–11); F Pierre-Luc O’Brien, Fr. (5-5–10); G Kevin LaPointe, Jr. (4-6-1, 3.08, .907).
Noteable: After opening the season 0-6, the Pioneers are 4-2-1 since. They are coming off a 7-2 nonleague loss to Colgate in a game played at The Arena at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport, Conn., home of the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. … Freshman Peter Giatrelis has five goals this season, but three of them are game winners (75 percent of the team’s total).
Connecticut coach Bruce Marshall: “Any time you put your team in a tournament, it makes the games a lot more fun and exciting. No one wants to play in the early game on the second day, and having the games on campus add a little jazz to them. … I think it’s a balanced field. All the teams are getting excited for the second half of the year. It’s a similar feeling for all four coaches involved.”
Bentley coach Ryan Soderquist: “If we can go in there and take the tourney, it could be a huge jump start. We said it on Christmas break that we need to come back with some fire and take that tourney. … As a team, we seem to play a little bit better on the road. The pressure of playing at home isn’t in our favor. We like to get out and play on the road and be like renegades.”
Marshall: “I really like our team and the way we compete. We’ve been in every game for the most part and we’ve got to find ways to win now. We’ve had leads in a lot of games that we’ve had leads and we should’ve won. I’d like to have a lot more wins, but I like our team.”
Soderquist: “I think that the league is so close that we just need to be playing well. In our last three games, we’ve been playing pretty well. We know eventually, we’ll get the bounce, so we’re not really grasping here. We don’t have that at all in the locker room. We have the capabilities to come out and win four or five in a road, so we’re not that uptight yet.”
Marshall: “I don’t think home ice matters. A lot of teams in our league play road games in nonconference play, so when you get a chance to play at home it’s a nice thing. I don’t think our arena is that tough to play in and sometimes it’s actually nice for the visiting team.”
Analysis: Not many eyes will be focused on this one, but for the teams involved, it’s a great opportunity for their programs.