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UConn Men’s Hockey Shuts Out Alabama-Huntsville in Weekend Series

Spencer Naas scored two goals and Rob Nichols had 23 saves as UConn won 4-0 in the second game of the weekend.

Tage Thompson puts the Huskies on the scoreboard first.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey took the sweep over Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday, winning 4-0 after a 6-0 win Friday night.

“Any time you get two wins, that’s always a great thing,” forward Spencer Naas said. The Huskies got goals from Evan Richardson, Tage Thompson and two from Naas.

Goaltender Rob Nichols made 23 saves and has back-to-back shutouts for the second time in his career, as well as the second time in school history.

“That’s what you can expect from Rob,” defenseman David Drake said.

The Huskies picked up right where they left off from Friday’s blowout win. They got two goals in the first period to jump out to an early lead.

“It was almost a carbon copy of the first game,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We just didn’t score as much. I liked the whole first period.”

The first two minutes belonged to Alabama-Huntsville. They came out strong as the puck spent most of that time in the Huskies’ defensive zone. They got a couple shots early on Nichols, something they were not able to on Friday.

However, their pressure petered out and the Huskies dominated the rest of the game.

A tremendous effort on the UConn forecheck kept the puck in the offensive zone for an extended amount of time. The Huskies lost possession of the puck, but Tage Thompson forced a turnover on the right side of the offensive zone near the blue line. He walked in and knocked one in off the post on Matt Larose 3:50 into the first period.

UConn did not relent and outside of two penalty kills, on which they allowed just two shots, dominated puck possession.

The Huskies struck again with just over a minute left in the opening period. Kasperi Ojantakanen took a feed from Corey Ronan to start a 3-on-2 rush with Naas rushing down the left side. Larose made the save on Ojantakanen’s shot, but the puck came right to Naas and he put it in the open net to give UConn a two-goal lead.

While there were no goals in the second period, the Huskies continued to assert their dominance. They led in shots, 11-to-7 and had more scoring chances. After two periods they were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and had only allowed three shots.

“I thought the penalty killing won us the game,” Cavanaugh said.

The third period saw play even out, despite another pair of UConn goals. Neither team was able to hold the zone for an extended period of time and each Husky goal was off of a quick entry into the offensive zone.

The first goal of the period came off of senior forward Evan Richardson’s stick. Karl El-Mir chased a dump-in to the left corner and was able to get it to Richardson, who walked in and scored at 13:09 of the third period. His third goal of the season brought the score to 3-0 Huskies.

A little over three minutes later, Naas notched his second of the afternoon to put the final nail in the coffin. He scored with under five minutes left in the game after taking a lead pass from Miles Gendron that enabled him to get in behind the defense on a breakaway then go five-hole on Larose.

UConn (2-0-0) has the week off before heading up to central New York for a game with Colgate on Friday and Rochester Institute of Technology on Saturday. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. both nights.