The UConn Huskies put forth a spirited effort tonight at the XL Center, shaking off a rough loss to Sacred Heart last week by defeating the Brown Bears, 3-1. The Huskies also snapped a four-game winless streak in the process.
Spencer Naas scored the first goal of the game in the first period on a nice feed from Tage Thompson, who did a great job of stealing the puck and working his way through two defenders before making the assist. Naas deftly put the puck through a pretty small window into the net to put the Huskies up, 1-0.
After an uneventful second period, Brown tied it up in the third with a power play goal from senior forward Nick Lappin, who knocked in a rebound after a shot by captain Mark Naclerio bounced of UConn goaltender Steve Thulin at the 12:05 mark. Brown had a chance to go ahead on another power play opportunity with about four minutes left but failed to capitalize.
Instead, UConn freshman forward Marco Richter made a nice individual effort to score his first goal of the season and push the Huskies ahead with just 1:38 left in the game. He jumped onto the ice for his shift, skated by a defender as he took possession of the puck into the opposing zone, lost it, fought to get it back and then put a shot on net past Brown goaltender Tim Ernst for his first career goal.
Max Letunov added an empty-netter, assisted by Tage Thompson, to seal the win and extend his point-scoring streak to seven games. The freshman sensation has netted six goals in the last five games and has scored a point in 16 of the past 17 games.
Head coach Mike Cavanaugh started Steve Thulin in net for the Huskies, giving Tanner Creel a rest after he played four straight games in Rob Nichols' absence. Thulin made 30 saves in his first start since the opening series of the season at Alabama-Huntsville on his way to earning first-star honors for the game. Richter received the second star for his game-winning goal and Thompson earned the third star for his two-assist performance.
The Huskies will be back in action on Saturday for a game at Merrimack to start the final seven-game stretch of the Hockey East schedule. With three, two-game series against tough teams (Providence, Northeastern, New Hampshire) after that, Cavanaugh's squad will need to build on tonight's solid performance to make sure it doesn't leave Massachusetts without at least a point this weekend.