UConn Men’s Hockey struggled mightily against Maine on Saturday at Fenway Park, as the Black Bears defeated the Huskies, 4-0.
Rob McGovern’s 31-save outing served the first shutout of the year to Mike Cavanaugh’s squad and the first since Feb. 12, 2016, when No. 5 Providence pitched one against the Huskies in Providence.
“McGovern played well,” Cavanaugh said. “My hat’s off to him, I thought he did a great job.”
Maine opened the scoring early, getting on the board just 2:33 into the outdoor contest.
Blaine Byron took the puck from left to right on a wraparound; Cam Brown took the loose puck and shoved it behind Adam Huska for a 1-0 Maine lead.
UConn got good shots and had chances, namely Spencer Naas on a centering pass from Benjamin Freeman in the last few minutes of the first period, but they could not push one past Rob McGovern.
The second period went even worse.
Maine outshot the Huskies, 19-to-11, and added another goal off of an Adam Huska mistake. He dove out to poke a loose puck away from the driving Black Bears but got lost outside the crease. Rob Michel slid the puck to Blaine Byron, who was behind Huska, and he notched his 10th goal of the year to make it 2-0 10:54 into the second period.
“That stemmed from defensive zone coverage,” Michel said. “Huska poke-checked it and it happened to land on my stick. We know he’s a quick, athletic guy so I faked a slap shot and I saw Byron streaking down back door.
Cavanaugh felt his netminder made the right decision to go after the puck.
“I think it was the right play, the kid was going to go in all alone,” Cavanaugh said. “He poked the puck away. It’s such a funky play. We had two guys there but they tried to play goalie instead of picking up a stick, I’m not faulting him, it’s just instinct. I think it was the right play by Adam.”
The Black Bears ended it early in the third. Off of feeds from Brown and Brendan Robbins, Michel took a rocket of a shot from the center point. Huska didn’t have a great view of it due to a screen.
The Huskies offense continued to struggle, even with the extra skater. Cavanaugh pulled Huska with 3:19 remaining after a timeout and Nolan Vesey scored an empty-netter at 18:03.
UConn (9-8-6, 5-4-2) gets back in action on Friday night at Gutterson Field House in Burlington, Vermont against the No. 12 Vermont Catamounts. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. and the game will be televised on NESN.