UConn went into Huntsville and picked up its first season-opening win since 2007, knocking off the UAH Chargers 5-2.
The video feed was screwy, so we spent most of this one listening to WHUS play-by-play extraordinaire Alex Giner. The lone take we can provide: Max Letunov is the truth, man.
3:46: UCONN GOAL! Letunov again! Second goal of the game for the Russian phenom. Naas gets his second assist of the night. 4-2 Huskies.
19:53: UCONN GOAL! Empty netter seals the hat trick for Letunov. 5-2 Huskies.
END OF REGULATION: UConn defeats Alabama-Huntsville 5-2. Solid defensive effort, only allowing 16 shots on goal. UConn wins its opener for the first time since 2007.
2:25: UCONN GOAL! Joe Masonius buries a rebound from the high slot for his first career goal. 2-2.
8:05: UConn is on the power play as Saulnier goes to the box for checking from behind.
15:02: UCONN GOAL! Max Letunov, the highly-touted freshman, scores his first career goal. Spencer Naas and Kyle Huson get assists. Huskies back on top in a better second period.
END SECOND: UConn leads 3-2. After a tough end to the first period, the Huskies got back in front with goals from Masonius and Letunov in the second. Three freshmen—Masonius, Letunov and Thompson—have points tonight for UConn. The second intermission stats are below.
0:26: UCONN GOAL! Patrick Kirtland, the team captain, buries the Huskies' first shot of the season to give UConn a 1-0 lead.
5:46: Good stuff from UConn so far, but it's tough to watch this feed. High camera makes it hard to see who's out there, and the audio is inaudible. If you're watching, throw on the WHUS.org feed. Alex Giner's broadcast will be a second ahead, but it's better than the provided broadcast.
7:16: UAH GOAL: Chargers get one back. Nice rebound from Brennan Saulnier ties it up after circling behind the net. Had Nichols beat without a doubt.
12:30: What a centering feed from Kirtland to Pauly. Pauly had the goalie beat stick side, but his high shot hit the crossbar.
14:27: Huskies' first penalty kill attempt of the season. Marco Richter in the box for tripping.
17:36: Can't really tell what happened with this atrocious video feed, but it sounds like offsetting penalties for UConn and UAH. Joe Masonius is in the box for the Huskies. Elbowing the call.
18:11: UAH GOAL. Feed skipped from the shot to the celebration, but the Chargers take the lead on the four-on-four.
END FIRST: UAH leads 2-1. UConn scored 26 seconds in through Patrick Kirtland, but that was it offensively. Don't ask for analysis. All we can provide is that the WCHA feed of this game is horrendous. First period stats are below.
Here is how the Huskies will line up in their season opener. Three of the four forward lines remain the same from UConn's 3-1 exhibition win over Queens.
Forward Line 1: Patrick Kirtland (C)—Shawn Pauly (A)—Will Golonka
This is an interesting line because of the presence of Golonka, who only featured in 10 games as a freshman for the Huskies, mainly on the fourth line. He played well with UConn's two senior captains against Queens and will be a player to watch in this opening series.
Forward Line 2: Spencer Naas—Max Letunov—Evan Richardson
So. Much. Speed. This is a high-energy line with plenty to be excited about. Naas is coming off a fantastic freshman campaign, during which he scored 13 goals and notched four assists in 36 games. He lines up to the left of Letunov, the exciting freshman prospect who made the late switch to UConn from Boston University this summer. Richardson posted a 5-5--10 line in 21 games last season. He will have plenty of chances to score on this line, where all three players are playmakers.
Forward Line 3: Marco Richter—Kasperi Ojantakanen—Corey Ronan
Ojantakanen and Ronan developed phenomenal chemistry last year, so they should be expected to do some damage together this season. Richter seemed to fill in nicely next to them on the left wing and could be a breakout player as a freshman.
Forward Line 4: Joey Ferriss—Jeff Schwartz—Tage Thompson
Ferriss and Schwartz will do most of the dirty work while Thompson, a towering 6-foot-4-inch freshman, will look to show what a lethal scorer he has proven to be at the youth levels.
Defensive Pair 1: David Drake—Joe Masonius
This is a cool pairing. Masonius, the former New Hampshire commit, lines up with the Philadelphia Flyers draft pick who has proven to be a steady defenseman and an asset on the blue line offensively.
Defensive Pair 2: Kyle Huson—Johnny Austin
UConn's defense lost a valuable piece last season when Austin went down with an injury. With him in the lineup, look for the Huskies to be quick transitioning out of its own zone. He should do nicely alongside the lone senior defenseman, Huson, who has been a reliable defensive player for three years.
Defensive Pair 3: Derek Pratt (A)—Ryan Segalla
Pratt is deservedly wearing the "A" this season as a valued leader despite only being a sophomore. This is a big year for Segalla, the first draft pick to ever play for UConn. The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect has had a good run at UConn, but there's definitely another level he can go to.
Goaltender: Rob Nichols (2014-15 record: 9-19-7, 2.73 GAA, .918 SV%)
Nichols said he's feeling healthy and ready to go after offseason surgery. The junior should not have to face 1,146 shots like he did last season.
UConn men's hockey's third season under Mike Cavanaugh begins tonight with the first game of a two-game series at Alabama-Huntsville of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The puck will drop tonight and Saturday night at 8:07 p.m. Eastern Time.
Excitement surrounds the UConn program after an impressive first year in Hockey East and the influx of NHL-caliber freshmen talent. Alabama-Huntsville placed eighth out of 10 in the WCHA preseason media poll and is an opponent UConn should beat if the Huskies are as good as everyone believes they are.
Though he didn't make it onto the scorecard in last weekend's exhibition game, freshman Max Letunov was very active offensively, moving the puck into the zone and getting some good chances skating toward the net. He is one of five freshman forwards who could all be steady contributors on this year's team. Tage Thompson, who scored the game-winning goal in Saturday's exhibition, is another freshman to keep an eye on.
While a lot of attention has been placed on the incoming talent, it will be just as exciting to see how much progress underclassmen leaders such as Spencer Naas, Derek Pratt, Kasperi Ojantakanen and goalie Rob Nichols have made in one year. It will be interesting to see how head coach Mike Cavanaugh blends experienced players, such as senior captains Shawn Pauly and Patrick Kirtland, with the youthful talent when he sets the lineup.
#ICEBUS Preview Material
How to Watch/Listen/Follow
Radio: WHUS 91.7 FM
Live Stats: UAHChargers.com
Series Record: UAH leads, 8-2-0
Last Meeting: UAH defeated UConn 6-2, Nov. 27, 2010