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UConn Men’s Hockey Falls 5-2 at No. 4 Quinnipiac

The Huskies couldn’t overcome an early deficit despite a late push.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn men’s hockey team was unable to combat early injuries and ejections in a mid-week loss to the No. 4 Quinnipiac Bobcats, 5-2.

“It certainly wasn’t the result we wanted, but I was proud of the fight in our guys,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said after the game. “I told them before the game, ‘if you can look yourself in the mirror and say you left it all out there on the ice, then I’m ok with that.’ I can look every one of our guys in the eye and say they left it all out on the ice.”

Adam Huska made 38 saves on 43 shots. The Husky goals came in the second period, one from Spencer Naas on the power play and the second from Karl El-Mir. Naas notched his third tally of the year. Evan Richardson added assists on both of the goals.

The first period did not go well for the Huskies. Adam Huska played well in the beginning but was unable to stop all 19 of the shots sent his way. Quinnipiac had seven minutes of power play time which helped them send that many shots at the UConn net.

It would only be a matter of time until the Bobcats got on the scoreboard. QU Captain Connor Clifton took a feed from Brogan Rafferty and laid the puck off on the left point for Andrew Taverner. His shot from just inside the blue line was well screened and found the back of the net 7:54 into the period for a 1-0 lead.

Twenty-five seconds later, the course of the game changed in a great way. The Huskies had been hurting offensively when Max Letunov committed a game misconduct for boarding. Quinnipiac was given a five-minute power play on the major penalty and though they were unable to score, this was five minutes that the Huskies had to hang back.

“I thought we responded [to the penalty] pretty well,” Cavanaugh said. “It was a five-minute major and they did a great job killing it.”

It looked like the period would end with just a one-goal deficit, but as the period wound down the puck squirted into the slot off of a failed clear attempt. Craig Martin was there to put it away with 25 seconds remaining to give the Bobcats a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes.

The Huskies scored early in the second to close the deficit to one, when Spencer Naas stuffed in a rebound 1:44 into the period after Chris Truehl stood on his head and made a pair of fabulous diving saves.

Unfortunately, that one goal deficit was short lived.

Thomas Aldworth scored a wraparound goal to raise Quinnipiac’s lead to two with a 3-1 score 3:43 into the second period.

UConn close to within one when El-Mir made a couple of nice moves before a pass to Evan Richardson, who sent one at the net. Truehl made the initial save but El-Mir stuffed in the rebound in 9:17 into the second for his second goal of the season.

Unfortunately, later in the period Quinnipiac scored two goals in 65 seconds, at 11:01 and 12:05 of the second period to bring the game to 5-2, where it would sit after two periods.

UConn played a little better in the third period, amassing 13 shots, but Quinnipiac was also holding on to a lead. Truehl continued his fantastic night, robbing UConn of at least two goals during the final frame as the Bobcats held on for the win.

UConn (2-1-2) next takes the ice on Friday at XL Center against American International College at 7:05 p.m.

Notes:

  • Maxim Letunov will be suspended for Friday’s game due to the game misconduct.
  • Junior forward Jeff Wight is out for the season after being injured on his first shift.
  • Junior defenseman David Drake is day-to-day after being injured in the first period.