UConn men’s hockey built up a 2-0 lead after one period but they could not put away UMass as the teams skated to a tie at Mullins Center, 2-2.
The Huskies had a great first period, but could not replicate their effort in the second and third periods.
“It’s just disappointing from a standpoint that you play so well in the first period and you didn’t sustain it,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said postgame.
Adam Huska played well, making 23 saves, some of which the Huskies badly needed. The UConn goals came from Maxim Letunov and Miles Gendron, who scored his first of the year.
The Huskies came out of the gate ready to play in the first. Thirty seconds in, they already had a power play and almost 30 seconds later, Letunov put the Huskies on the board. Tage Thompson sent the puck over to the sophomore from Russia and his shot from the center of the ice just inside the blue line beat Ryan Wischow to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
UConn out-shot the Minutemen 10-to-2 in the first stanza and did not allow a shot until the seven-minute mark of the period on a weak attempt while UMass was killing a penalty in what was an easy beginning of the game for Huska.
The other Husky goal game 3:05 into the game on an odd-man rush. Gendron took the feed from Evan Richardson and his one-timer found the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage. Karl El-Mir also had an assist, his third of the year.
Unfortunately, UConn let UMass hang around.
“If you’re up two goals after one, that doesn’t mean a thing,” Cavanaugh said. “You still have to go out there and compete and win.”
The Minutemen out-shot the Huskies by a wide margin- 14-to-4 in the second period. UMass came within one of the Huskies by the end of the period, but could not find a tying goal.
Huska made plenty of timely saves, especially on the penalty kill, where UMass had five shots in the second period. There was a scrum in front of the net and Austin Plevy stuffed the puck behind Huska to cut the lead in half.
The Minutemen continued to be the better team and scored what seemed like an inevitable game-tying goal 6:25 into the third period. Kurt Keats took a pass from Jack Suter and took his shot from close range on the right side. He was able to beat Huska stick side, just inside the left post.
Overtime went much better for the Huskies, though they failed to come out with a win. They had three shots, all good chances which were very challenging for Wischow as UConn held the puck for much of the five-minute extra session.
“I thought overtime was our best five minutes outside of the first period,” junior captain Derek Pratt said.
UConn (3-2-4, 1-1-1) will be back in action next weekend with a two-game series against Ohio State on the road in Columbus. Friday’s game will begin at 7:00 p.m., with Saturday’s puck drop coming at 4:00 p.m.