This Week In The MAAC: Dec. 27, 2001

MAAC Midseason Report Card

We’re pretty close to the halfway point in the MAAC season, and with the recent respite, there isn’t a lot of hockey to talk about.

So I once again bring you the midseason report card for all 11 teams.

There have been some surprises early in the season. Holy Cross and Canisius are sitting near the top of the league despite low expectations leading into the year; Iona having difficulties living up to billing; and teams like Army and Fairfield down at the bottom, despite playing pretty decent hockey.

There have also been a fair share of good performances already.

Start with AIC’s Frank Novello, who single-handedly beat Fairfield in three straight games despite being outshot 150-58. And Mercyhurst earned the league’s only win against a “Big Four” opponent, dismantling Colgate, 5-2, at the Syracuse Invitational.

All said, here then, is my midseason report. Let the hate mail begin.


Midseason Record

Overall: 5-7-0
MAAC: 4-6-0

Preseason USCHO pick: 10th
Current position: T-7th


Before the season started, it wasn’t difficult to write AIC off for another year without a postseason. One year ago, the Yellow Jackets’ only hope seemed to come from goaltender Chance Thede. He was known on plenty of occasions to simply steal a game or two, and combining that with the disciplined team that AIC coach Gary Wright is known for putting on the ice, one thought that the playoffs weren’t too far-fetched. But with Thede graduating, that hole between the pipes seemed a daunting one to fill. That was until Frank Novello arrived. As a rookie, Novello stands second only to Mercyhurst’s Peter Aubry in save percentage and is fifth in the league in goals against average. Novello single-handedly stole AIC’s three league wins — all against Fairfield, when AIC was outshot a combined 150-58. Come the second half, if Novello can remain hot, don’t be surprised to see this team make a run at the playoffs. Overall midterm grade: C+


As good as AIC’s goaltending has been, the offense has been equally poor. The Yellow Jackets stand ninth in the league at less than two-and-a-half goals per game. The AIC power play has scored the fewest goals in the league (seven), and AIC is one of only three teams yet to have a shorthanded marker. Rookie Ron Miller leads the team in scoring with just 12 points (six goals, six assists). Your goaltending can stop everything in the world, but if you can’t put the puck in the net, wins become much more difficult. Offense midterm grade: D+


With players like Novello backstopping the AIC defense, things can’t be too bad. That said, it’s hard to ignore that in five of the 12 AIC games, the defense has allowed five or more goals (including a 7-2 loss to Army and an 8-2 thrashing by Connecticut). Given Novello’s strong stats, it would suggest that he might have a case to sue his defense for a lack of support. AIC is in the middle of the pack overall in defense (seventh out of 11 teams, averaging 3.67 goals against per game). Improvement could spark a playoff run for the Yellow Jackets since the most important part of the equation — goaltending — is already accounted for. Defense midterm grade: B-


Midseason Record

Overall: 2-11-2
MAAC: 2-6-2

Preseason USCHO pick: 7th
Current position: 9th

Overall Someday Army will stop making a liar out of me. Every year, I believe that Army could make some noise. I believe that the Black Knights can build themselves up to the form of old that was competitive against some of the most established programs in college hockey. This year, though I’m sure I could be proven wrong again, I think Army is so close to recovery. This is a good hockey team. Not a single team in the league wants to play Army. Yet here we are at Christmas and this Army squad has been one of the most generous teams when it comes to giving away victories. This team could be 8-5-2 right now, but has a pitiful record in close games. A bounce of the puck here, a call your way there, and Army could easily turn five or six ‘L’s into ‘W’s. Army is 0-9-2 in games decided by two goals or less. Doesn’t a blind squirrel find a nut every once in a while? Eventually you have to think that Army will win a close game, no? Overall midterm grade: C-

Offense The most difficult thing about writing about this struggling Army team is the fact that statistically, they’re middle of the pack. Their scoring offense ranks just behind Iona, a team fighting for home ice instead of a playoff spot. They have five players already with double-digit scoring. Their power play, just like their offense and defense, is ranked sixth in the league. So what is Army missing? Clutch goals. In Army’s two wins, the game-winners were scored before the fans had even finished arriving. But when the chips are down, Army has not responded. Only three times all season has Army made third-period comebacks — and two of those saw them fall in overtime. A playoff contender has players who can score at opportune times. That’s what Army will need to make the postseason. Offense midterm grade: C

Defense Averaging 3.53 goals against per game, Army sits three spots ahead of aforementioned Iona, despite being three spots behind in the standings. Can they turn this around? Absolutely. If the defense, particularly goaltending, can continue to give the team a chance to win games, eventually they will. Senior goaltender Scott Hamilton will need some big performances down the stretch to make up for his 0-6 start. Freshman John Yaros has showed signs of emerging as a solid goaltender for the Army. Defense midterm grade: C-


Midseason Record

Overall: 2-13-1
MAAC: 2-9-1

Preseason USCHO pick: 11th
Current position: T-10th

Overall In one aspect, Bentley has lived up to expectations. Preseason, I picked the Falcons to finish last — they’re currently second to last. That, though, is likely where meeting expectations ends for the Falcons. For the third straight year, Bentley reaches the break struggling. They are a step ahead of last year, a season that saw them reach mid-December before pulling off a win. But still at 2-13-1, there won’t be a lot of smiles in the Bentley locker room. There have been highlights — namely a 2-1 victory over Canisius a night after the Griffs dismantled Bentley, 6-1. At times, rookie goaltender Simon St. Pierre has shined brightly. Other times, he has not. Can the Falcons make a playoff run? Anything is possible, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Overall midterm grade: D+

Offense In past years, offense hasn’t been that much of a worry for Bentley. The Falcons always seemed to have a couple of players who could put the puck in the net. The problem always has been an inflated goals against average. This year, though, offense has not been a strong suit. Only two players — rookie Brian Goodwin and senior defenseman Steve Tobio — have managed double digits in points. But after the 12 points for each of these players, the next closest is six assists from rookie Seth Vinocur. The Falcons’ offense is last in the league, averaging less than two goals per game. The defense is yielding 4.62. Offense midterm grade: D

Defense When you’re 2-13-1 at the break, it’s not a bad idea to look for some kind of silver lining. Rookie Simon St. Pierre provided a bit of that early in the season when he stopped 44 AIC shots in a 3-2 overtime victory. Follow that with a 33-save performance in a 2-1 win over AIC and Bentley may have finally found a decent goaltender. Looking at the rest of the defensive corps, though, that silver lining has turned dark gray. With highly-touted senior Steve Tobio anchoring the blue line, Bentley did have some reason to hope the perennially weak defense would be stronger. But even Tobio can’t provide the necessary leadership to keep Bentley out of the cellar on team defense. If the Falcons are to make a run at any type of postseason, their number one mission has to be to limit the number of shots their goaltenders see. An improved defense could close the current four-goal gap between scoring offense and defense that is killing this Bentley team. Defense midterm grade: D+


Midseason Record

Overall: 8-6-2
MAAC: 7-3-2

Preseason USCHO pick: 5th
Current position: 2nd

Overall A major surprise over the first half of the hockey season has been the Canisius Golden Griffs. A 7-3-2 record places Canisius just two points behind Mercyhurst in what could become a two-Western-team race to the finish line. If anyone was writing off Canisius’ early success to a weak schedule, the Griffs changed that thinking the week leading into the break when they swept preseason favorite, Iona, 5-2 and 3-1, to move into second place. Also of importance is the fact that Canisius only has three remaining league road trips — a two-game set with Holy Cross in January, games at AIC and Sacred Heart in February, and closing the season, at Iona and Army in early March. Canisius is undefeated at home in league games (4-0-2). The Griffs still play seven MAAC home games after the New Year, giving hope to a title run. Overall midterm grade: A

Offense Somewhere along the road to the New Year, Canisius found both its yin and yang — because right now, the Griffs offense is the most balanced in the league. No one player has risen above the rest, yet the teams leads the MAAC in scoring average netting an average of 4.12 goals per game — nearly half a goal better than second ranked Mercyhurst (3.69 goals per game). Most impressive is the fact that nine players on the Griffs have already reached double-digits in scoring, with three more just a point behind. The fact that few MAAC teams can boast four solid lines of offensive threats automatically places Canisius in a class by themselves. The youth movement is certainly powerful for the Griffs — four of their top six scorers are underclassmen, led by sophomore Rob Martin’s team-best 10 goals. Canisius has also proven the ability to play strong late in games, leading the league with 23 third-period goals. Offense midterm grade: A+

Defense Sean Weaver made a name for himself when, on February 22, 2000, he stopped 58 shots against then-national powerhouse Niagara to give Canisius a 2-1 upset victory. The game, which could be seen across the country on Empire Sports, started a five-game winning streak for the young netminder and made many a believer that this goaltender could carry the Griffs to success in the coming year. Last season, though, was nowhere near as glory-filled for Weaver. Hampered by injuries and a lack of confidence, Weaver turned over the starting job to senior Stephen Fabiilli, who carried the Griffs to the MAAC Final Four. Weaver finished the year with a 4-4-1 record, a 3.39 goals against average and an .871 save percentage — hardly the marquee numbers Canisius had hoped to see. Entering this season, Weaver stood as the sole question mark for the Griffs. To date, the answer to the question has been positive. Weaver stands fourth in the league in goals against (3.01) and boasts a 6-4-2 record at the break. He took a positive step into the Christmas break by backstopping both Griffs wins in the sweep of Iona earlier this month. If he continues to play well, look for the Griffs to make a legitimate run at the title. Defense midterm grade: A-


Midseason Record

Overall: 4-11-1
MAAC: 2-7-1

Preseason USCHO pick: 8th
Current position: T-10th

Overall It has been important since the inception of the MAAC league that a sense of parity be achieved in a short term. It’s still not there — I can’t lie. But when you look at Fairfield sitting in 10th at Christmas, one has to worry how far off parity really is. No one thought that Fairfield was going to crack the top four in the league, I’ll give you that. But knowing the talent that returned to coach Jim Hunt’s squad combined with his ability to teach players systems and how to achieve success at least made me a believer that Fairfield would be competitive. To this point, I believe they are. The standings, though, speak differently. Though I’ve written about it before, I can’t help but note that three of Fairfield’s seven MAAC losses were sheer robbery. Frank Novello, AIC goaltender, stole all three as Fairfield outshot the Yellow Jackets, 150-58, but came away without a win. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize a 5-4-1 record is much different from 2-7-1. (In this case it’s the difference between fourth and 10th.) Overall midterm grade: C-

Offense Offense is one area Fairfield must improve. Running into a hot goaltender now and again is one thing. Being able to finish plays and score goals in another. The Stags average 2.31 goals per game. They posted donuts three times — all in close games (1-0 twice, and 2-0). Three years ago, Fairfield had possibly the best freshman class in the league. This year, those same players continue to lead the team in scoring. But this fab five needs to make even more of an offensive contribution if Fairfield is to survive come March. Offense midterm grade: D+

Defense Fairfield’s defense is close to being a beacon of hope. Between the pipes, five goaltenders have seen play with two — Craig Schnappinger and Michael Wolfe carrying the brunt. Statistically, both are decent. The difference between what makes a team a decent team and a good team starts with goaltending. One of these men will have to step up in the second half of the season. Also needing to improve is the Stags penalty kill. Though not laden with a lot of penalties, the PK is only working to a 73.4% efficiency. Defense midterm grade: C

Holy Cross

Midseason Record

Overall: 8-5-2
MAAC: 5-2-2

Preseason USCHO pick: 9th
Current position: 3rd

Overall Nobody gave them a shot before the season started. Nobody. That includes this writer, who felt optimistic picking Holy Cross ninth, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. One year ago, the Crusaders struggled with every aspect of the game. This year, at the holiday break, Holy Cross is possibly the most improved team in the country. They boast a 5-2-2 record in league play and have split their non-conference games (3-3). A couple of games saw the Crusaders hiccup (7-4 loss to Iona, 9-1 loss to Dartmouth, 7-2 loss to Northeastern), but when the chips are down, they have found ways to win. Added motivation may come from the fact that Holy Cross once again hosts the league tournament. The first time they hosted in 1998, the Crusaders took home the title. Overall midterm grade: A-

Offense Holy Cross enters the break with six players in double-digits for points. Last season, the Crusaders finished the season with only nine players reaching double digits. Talk about night and day. The Holy Cross offense ranks third in the league behind only Mercyhurst and Canisius. The Crusaders power play is one of the best in the country, with a league-leading 28.6% efficiency. That’s more than five points better than their already strong 23% from a year ago. Can the offense carry this team? Without a doubt. The ability for the offense to stay on track and this team to remain healthy will dictate where Holy Cross finishes in the standings. But at this point, home ice seems realistic. Offense midterm grade: A-

Defense A season ago when Holy Cross finished 8-22-2, the one area where it was easy to point fingers was between the pipes. Lacking any sort of experience, the Crusaders never found goaltending consistency throughout the entire campaign. Holy Cross averaged 4.11 goals against per game while scoring an average of only 2.75 goals per game. Needless to say, the record reflected it. This year, though, with another year under their belts, Derek Cunha and Rick Massey have shown remarkable improvement, and each has had his own highlight games. Cunha made 36 saves in relief in a crazy 7-6 win at Air Force, and had 33 saves in a 5-5 tie at Mercyhurst. The next night Massey made 40 saves in a 3-3 tie at Canisius that preceded two shutouts later in the season against Bentley and Fairfield. It was a hot goaltender that coach Paul Pearl rode to the championship three years ago. This year, he could ride two. Defense midterm grade: B+


Midseason Record

Overall: 6-8-1
MAAC: 5-4-1

Preseason USCHO pick: 2nd
Current position: T-4th

Overall For the first time in the four-year history of the MAAC, Iona entered the season with expectations. For three years coach Frank Bretti has been building a team from the ground up. Iona has proven to be one of the best recruiting schools in the league, and until this year have been known as an offensive spark plug. But the Iona struggles did not start at day one. Iona opened the season 4-0-1 and held first place in the MAAC for the first month. Then, though, a stretch of eight road games in the next ten led to a 2-8-0 mark to close the first half culminated by a 7-2 drubbing at Northeastern. If the road is a foe for the Gaels, they’ll be happy to play a majority (though barely — only nine) of their final 17 at home, where they currently have a 4-1-0 record. The key stretch for Iona will come early in January when they face Bentley and AIC in back-to-back home-and-home series. Wins in these games are crucial to keeping the Gaels contenders. Overall midterm grade: C

Offense It’s almost shocking to see the Iona offense not at the top of the league. Offense has never been the problem for the Gaels — defense has. Yes, Ryan Carter, Rob Kellogg, and Ryan Manitowich are still at the top of the team in scoring, but the point production of these three key players is down significantly. The Iona power play that once was considered deadly is dreadful, connecting only eight times to date for a 14.3% efficiency. If the Gaels are going to make a run at the MAAC title, they will need to score more than 3.07 goals per game. Offense midterm grade: C

Defense Last season, Iona coach Frank Bretti said that he had a goal to be one of the top three defensive teams in the league. That was what he believed would be the key to his team’s success. By season’s end, Iona reached that point and ended up tied for second place with Quinnipiac. Not bad for a team that couldn’t keep the puck out of the net a year earlier. That, though, has all gone for naught this year. Iona has dropped to third from the bottom in the MAAC in scoring defense, averaging 3.87 goals against. Scott Galenza, who began the season 3-0-1 as the hottest rookie netminder in the league, has cooled off significantly — 0-4 since November 3. With high expectations, it is suddenly time for Iona to prove its mettle — starting with defense. Defense midterm grade: C-


Midseason Record

Overall: 9-5-2
MAAC: 8-0-2

Preseason USCHO pick: 1st
Current position: 1st

Overall For the second year in a row, Mercyhurst reaches the Christmas break having lived up to all its hype. The Lakers remain undefeated in the league, with a 9-5-2 overall record. Considering that all of the pressure rests on the Lakers’ shoulders, it’s not too shabby of a start. The only place the Lakers have proven weak is in non-league play, where Mercyhurst has compiled a dismal 1-5-0 mark — the only win a 5-2 victory over Colgate in the consolation game of the Syracuse Invitational. But those games never have been, and probably never will be, the defining point of Mercyhurst’s season. After next weekend, the Lakers will play only league games — 16 in all, nine at home — with hopes of taking their second straight MAAC championship. Overall midterm grade: A-

Offense The Lakers offense has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. But looking at statistics, maybe the Lakers simply needed to get the train on the right track. In the first five games (including one exhibition game), Mercyhurst scored only nine goals. Since that time, Mercyhurst has scored 52 goals in 12 games — notching five-plus goals six times and only being held to two or less once (a 4-1 loss to Niagara). Senior center Louis Goulet leads the team and the MAAC league in scoring with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists). Last year’s rookie phenom Adam Tackaberry is close behind with 7-10-17. As coach Rick Gotkin had hoped, rookie Rich Hansen has stepped right into the lineup with comfort — 12 points in 16 games. He is tied for second in the league behind Iona’s Brent Williams for rookie scoring. Offense midterm grade: A-

Defense When talking about the Mercyhurst defense, you need only say one name: Peter Aubry. The senior netminder carried a talent-laden team to within a goal of the NCAA Regional Final last season and has returned this season looking for revenge. After starting the season with a tweaked knee, Aubry has recovered nicely and now is near the top of every goaltending category. He leads the league in save percentage (.929), is second in goals against average (2.26) and winning percentage (.682) and has propelled Mercyhurst to the stingiest defense in the league (2.69 goals against per game). A healthy Aubry should translate to another trip to the MAAC Final Four and a chance to avenge last year’s NCAA loss. Defense midterm grade: A


Midseason Record

Overall: 7-6-1
MAAC: 5-4-1

Preseason USCHO pick: 3rd
Current position: T-4th

Overall When is a rebuilding year not a rebuilding year? When you’re Quinnipiac. After dominance in the first three years of the MAAC league, Quinnipiac found itself dressing enough underclassmen to qualify as a solid high school team. But anyone who knows coach Rand Pecknold should know that the product on the ice would be nothing short of excellent. Yes, Quinnipiac is young. But they are also a well-coached team that can play with any in the league night in and night out. The one thing, though, that still lacks is the experience to bring that effort, drive and determination to every single game. Sure there have been tough nights, like a 9-0 loss at Maine. But Quinnipiac has also played five games against three of the top teams (Iona three times, Mercyhurst and Canisius once) and posted a 2-2-1 record in those games. The second half of the season will begin with a key stretch that sees Quinnipiac face AIC, Army and Bentley for six games from January 11-26. It is the games against the bottom of the league that Quinnipiac must win to secure home ice in the playoffs. Overall midterm grade: B+

Offense The Quinnipiac offense is the one area that has probably suffered the most from last year’s graduation loss. A team that scored 141 goals a year ago, only put up 41 goals in the first half of the season. The loss of five of the schools all-time top 20 scorers is a start to answer the question, “Why?” It’s not a surprise that the players pacing the Quinnipiac offense come from the small group of returnees. Junior Brian Herbert (20 points) and senior Ryan Olsen (18 points) lead the Quinnipiac charge. Defenseman Matt Erhart, possibly the best two-way player in the league, is third in scoring with 13 points. Offense midterm grade: B

Defense When it comes to the Quinnipiac defense, particularly goaltending, it’s like deja vu all over again. A year ago Quinnipiac entered the season as favorites thanks much to goaltender J.C. Wells, who holds many of Quinnipiac’s goaltending records. By the halfway point in the season, though, Wells had virtually lost his starting role to rookie Justin Eddy. Eddy backboned the team the rest of the way, and had it not been for a shaky performance in the MAAC championship, could have been stolen by the NHL. One year later, Eddy returned to Quinnipiac hoping to make the difference in terms of goaltending that could propel Quinnipiac to the top. But similar to a year earlier, as Eddy struggled in the beginning of the season, rookie Jamie Holden has stepped forward. Holden was victorious in his first five starts and entered the break with a 6-3-0 record. His .924 save percentage is third in the MAAC and his 2.16 goals against average is best in the league. Eddy’s numbers haven’t been very solid early on, but if he were to get the chance to come around, Pecknold could be blessed with a solid one-two tandem between the pipes. Defense midterm grade: B+

Sacred Heart

Midseason Record

Overall: 5-8-1
MAAC: 5-3-0

Preseason USCHO pick: 4th
Current position: 6th

Overall All MAAC is all that remains for Shaun Hannah and the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Burdened with a heavy non-league schedule in the first half of the year, the Pioneers will play nothing but league games after the break, making the next three months the key part of the season. And unlike other teams with either heavy home or road schedules, Sacred Heart has a clean split — nine games apiece on the road and at home. With a 5-3-0 league record at break, it’s hard to say whether the Pioneers have lived up to expectations. Without having ever proven themselves to be upper-echelon, it was hard to put the Pioneers in that group heading into the year — despite the fact they returned a solid nucleus of players. The only major problem that Sacred Heart has faced to this point is discipline. The Pioneers have average more than 17 minutes a game in penalties, combined with a 78.7% penalty kill has hurt them a couple of times already. Overall midterm grade: B

Offense The Pioneers offense has been similar to the overall team — average. At times, they have stepped up and played well — scoring five goals against Canisius and four on the road at Maine. But in seven of the 14 games, the Pioneers have been held to two goals or less (2-5-0 in those games). It is justifiable to note that Sacred Heart has already played four games against “Big Four” schools, as well as two on the road at Alabama-Huntsville. So the easiest way to sum up the Sacred Heart offense is with a question mark. When that question is finally answered, so too will the question of whether or not Sacred Heart is a contender. With games in hand on the entire league, the Pioneers could control their own destiny. Offense midterm grade: B-

Defense Continuing the theme, it’s easy too to call Sacred Heart’s defensive efficiency average. The Pioneers average 3.50 goals against per game, smack dead center of the league. Goaltender Eddy Ferhi, who overtook four-year veteran Alexi Jutras-Binet for the starting role a year ago, has put up decent numbers. On top of that, rookie Kevin LaPointe has looked decent when given the chance to play. LaPointe held Quinnipiac off the scoreboard in relief of Ferhi on November 3, shutout Army in a 1-0 victory on November 17, and suffered a third-period loss, despite making 36 saves at Alabama-Huntsville on November 24. Translation: A little improvement from both goaltenders, added defensive commitment by the players in front, and Sacred Heart could be a force in the home stretch. Defense midterm grade: B


Midseason Record

Overall: 3-8-3
MAAC: 3-4-2

Preseason USCHO pick: 6th
Current position: T-7th

Overall At the midway point of the season, UConn coach Bruce Marshall has to be asking the same question before every game: Which UConn team will show up tonight? The Huskies have proven themselves the league’s best Jekyll-and-Hyde case — showing the ability to score goals with regularity one night, then to go weeks without scoring. UConn has also had a strange schedule to open this season. The Huskies played seven consecutive games on the road from October 20 through November 16, then played five straight at home from November 17 through December 1. The most sinful part of that was not capitalizing on those home games, posting a 1-3-1 record over that stretch. Now, heading into the second half of the year, UConn will play 12 road games and only six home games after hosting this weekend’s UConn SNET Classic. Ironically, the Huskies still have playoff dreams. With a 3-4-2 league record, they sit in seventh, tied for the final two playoff spots with AIC. The key stretch for UConn will be January 25 through February 2 when they play home-and-home series with Bentley and Fairfield. Four wins there could secure playoff hopes while four losses could spell doom. Overall midterm grade: C-

Offense The split personality of UConn is best spelled out in its offense. At one point, the UConn offense went 199:34 without a goal. Once that streak was over, though, UConn scored 18 goals in four games. The problem with that, though, was UConn’s record in those four games was only 2-2 (a 5-0 loss to Quinnipiac and a 6-5 loss to UMass-Amherst accounted for the two losses). Five times, though, this season the Huskies have been blanked. That’s one more time than they were shut out in the previous two years. If you’re looking for a reason for offensive woes, the way the Huskies come out of the chute is certainly a start. UConn has scored a dismal three goals in the first period this season, while allowing 19 in the opening frame. When you’re not very confident in your offense, falling behind early is not a good solution. Offense midterm grade: D

Defense When the number nine is in the “goals for” column, smiles are abound in a locker room. When the number nine is in the “goals against” column, it’s easy to wonder if anyone is playing defense. UConn has seen that number twice this season — both in 9-0 losses (to Bemidji State and Mercyhurst). Combine that with giving up six goals twice (to the UMass sisters in Lowell and Amherst) and you can either write off the goaltending or defense as poor. Until December 8 — the night that UConn traveled to ECAC member Vermont for what could have been another non-league blowout. Instead, goaltender Jason Carey stopped 54 shots and a late goal earned the Huskies a 2-2 tie. Anyone want to put some rhyme or reason to this? If that’s the step in the right direction that the Huskies need, watch out. Two years ago UConn rode hot goaltending to an 8-1 record down the stretch and the MAAC championship. Defense midterm grade: C-