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Men's Hockey: Huskies Cruise to 5-1 Win Over Arizona State in Home Opener

Two goals from Spencer Naas and five points from freshmen helped see the Huskies past Division I's newest program.

Max Letunov recorded assists on both power play goals for Spencer Naas, bringing his season total to six points.
Max Letunov recorded assists on both power play goals for Spencer Naas, bringing his season total to six points.
Ian Bethune/TrueBlueUConn.com

HARTFORD—UConn men's hockey coach Mike Cavanaugh said the Huskies had a plan to bounce back from last Saturday's 5-2 loss at Alabama Huntsville. The Huskies needed to create chances and shoot the puck.

"For the majority of the game, we were able to accomplish that," he said after Friday night's home opener.

The Huskies scored twice on the power play, got five points from freshmen and scored their first shorthanded goal in more than two years while outshooting Arizona State 41-25 in a 5-1 win at the XL Center.

A hard hit along the benches put Derek Pratt in the penalty box 1:06 into the game. Thirty-six seconds later, the Huskies had the lead. Kasperi Ojantakanen grabbed a rebound and wrapped around the net, beating Robert Levin for his first goal of the season.

Ojantakanen is the first Husky to record a shorthanded goal since Jordan Sims scored one against Robert Morris on Jan. 12, 2013.

That was the last action for Levin. According to Arizona State coach Greg Powers, the junior goaltender strained his Achilles on the goal.

Powers turned to freshman Ryland Pashovitz after that. Pashovitz had been in net for the Sun Devils Thursday night, when Quinnipiac peppered his net with 57 shots. He stopped 52 of them.

Pashovitz only saw nine shots in 20 minutes, but three hit the net. With four minutes left in the first period, Max Kalter got into position along the left circle and fired in his first career goal as he fell to the ice. On a power play 53 seconds later, Max Letunov's shot from the high slot was deflected into the net by Spencer Naas, the first goal of the year for the sophomore from Minnesota.

After Shawn Pauly added his first goal of the year three minutes into the second period, Powers pulled Pashovitz, moving on to his No. 3 goaltender, David Jacobson.

"In retrospect, D.J. went in and played really well. I probably should have put him in right away (after Levin's injury)," Powers said. "Pash wasn't ready to go, and we paid for it."

Jacobsen was steady in relief for the Sun Devils, making 28 saves and keeping the Huskies off the board throughout the second and most of the third.

Arizona State did salvage a goal in the third period, an easy rebound from former Northeastern Husky Ryan Belonger, but Naas put a rebound from a Letunov shot past Jacobsen three minutes later, and UConn was able to see out the final 11 minutes with ease.

Several Huskies were on display Friday night, but again, it was the freshmen who stood out. Between Kalter's goal, two blocks each from Miles Gendron and Tage Thompson, and two assists each from Letunov and Joe Masonius, the newest Huskies introduced themselves to the home crowd in a big way. But the Huskies will need to see that success continue going forward. After playing the Sun Devils, a team four games into its Division I history, UConn has the national runner-up, No. 6 Boston University, waiting for it up at Agganis Arena next Saturday.

"That's part of the building process when you're building a program is to bring good players in here. You're not going to compete for trophies if you don't have good hockey players. We have a lot of them in that room, and it just so happens that 18 of them are freshmen and sophomores, and they're doing a nice job right now. But it's going to be a different game next weekend."