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Final: UConn Men’s Hockey Defeats Maine, 6-3

The Huskies got the best of the Black Bears in their weekend series opener.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn Men’s Hockey adds another win in league play with a decisive victory over Maine, 6-3 in front of 2,173 at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

“Against Yale we just didn’t show up,” Wyatt Newpower said. “Tonight we came out pissed off and we knew it was gonna be a physical game and we brought it.”

Tage Thompson (14 goals-8 assists—22 points) added two goals, along with Spencer Naas (12-2—14), Wyatt Newpower (2-3—5) and Kasperi Ojantakanen (3-8—11), who each scored one. Max Kalter (3-12—15) added a goal and two assists. Maxim Letunov (5-15—20) also had two helpers on the night. UConn finished 2-for-3 on the power play.

“We talked before the game about perseverance,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I think tonight was a great example of that.”

Adam Huska added 23 saves for the Huskies, who outshot Maine 38-to-26 and 16-to-8 in the third period.

The first period really belonged to the Huskies, even though Maine opened the scoring.

Cam Brown held the puck at the top of the right circle and saw a streaking Rob Michel heading to the left post. Stick met puck just outside the crease and at 7:57, Maine took the lead.

UConn continued to be the better team and evened it up courtesy of Naas 11:47 into the period.

Benjamin Freeman found himself with the puck behind the net and he sent it out to Naas, who buried the tying goal. UConn would take the lead just a few minutes later.

Maine’s Cedric Lacriox took a penalty for roughing at 14:53 and the Huskies took advantage of Maine’s subpar (81.7 percent heading into the game) penalty kill.

Nyberg passed the puck to Letunov, who had set up shop on the top of the right circle. He threw the puck at the net and Kalter was there to tip it in at 15:34 to give the the Huskies the lead.

Maine rebounded in the second period and even though the teams traded a pair of goals each and UConn led in shots, 16-to-11, the Black Bears played a better period.

Brendan Robbins got Maine right back in it six minutes into the second stanza. Brown made another nice pass and Robbins put the puck in the net. Brown got his 20th assist on the year as the Black Bears tied it up.

“[Brown] is a very important player for us in all situations and he has been for a long time,” Maine head coach Red Gendron said postgame.

The ice began to tilt more and more in Maine’s direction until Thompson put a stop to it.

This time it was Kalter in the office behind the net and it was Thompson crashing. The sophomore forward took the team lead in goals and also gave UConn the lead back at 3-2.

“It’s always important to get the puck behind the net,” Kalter said. “We’ve been practicing it all year and it’s been paying off.”

At 15:02, Nolan Vesey re-tied the game. Off of a face-off scramble, he took a spinning shot from the high slot and the screened Huska didn’t have a chance.

Just as at the end of the first period a Maine penalty led to a goal, the Huskies took advantage of a power play as time wound down in the second period.

Newpower hit the cross bar with a shot from the top of the right circle, but it found the back of the net anyway and with 18 seconds left UConn had a 4-3 lead.

“I was able to keep the puck in on a failed clear by Maine, a guy bit on a fake and I was able to get a shot off,” Newpower said. “Good things happen when you shoot the puck.”

Third period UConn looked more like first period UConn and the Huskies secured the win, even killing a short five-on-three power play.

For insurance, Ojantakanen found the puck bouncing in the slot after a blocked shot. He beat Matt Morris to make it 5-3 before Thompson got his second of the night with an empty-netter inside the final minute.

UConn (9-7-6, 5-3-2) will get after it again at Fenway Park when they take on Maine again on Saturday. Puck drop is at 1:30 p.m.