While the rest of the students were on break this past week, UConn men’s hockey grabbed a pair of wins, defeating Vermont on the road Tuesday night and RIT at the XL Center on Saturday. It’s the Huskies’ first winning streak since early-October when they took down Maine and American International.
Here’s what we learned from the two games.
Vermont could be a turning point
Heading into the game with the Catamounts, things were at a low point for UConn. After a 2-1-0 start to the season, the Huskies went 1-9-2 in 12 games. They had been struggling in first periods and even when they had a good one, like in their 1-0 loss to UMass Lowell, they still ended up on the losing end.
Tuesday’s result in Burlington was surprising for a variety of reasons. Gutterson Fieldhouse is a tough place to play and UConn came out firing, taking the crowd out of it with three first period goals. Adam Huska carried them through the third period, with 19 saves on 20 shots, but they got results early and carried it all the way through. This win should give the Huskies confidence that they can compete across the Hockey East schedule and turn this thing around.
Allowing the first goal did not derail UConn against RIT
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Huskies were 1-8-2 when allowing the first goal. So when RIT scored first, things could have easily snowballed. However, it took a little more than four minutes before UConn tied it up and just over seven for the Huskies to take a lead. This kind of resilience is a new, welcome development.
Adam Huska can take this team places
UConn generated 38 shots against Vermont and 34 shots more on Saturday. They were able to use those offensive chances to get goals, but in both instances, the other team made a strong push to try and get back into it. Luckily, goaltender Adam Huska was there to protect the lead.
Vermont took 20 shots in the final period and Huska stopped 19 of them. Huska did an excellent job in net to make sure UConn held on for the win.
The Huskies needed Huska at the end of Saturday’s victory as well. The Tigers pulled their goaltender with 1:01 remaining and had five shot attempts with the extra skater, three of which were on net. Huska stopped all three.
It would have been disappointing to see UConn control a game but have it go to overtime. Huska's strong play in net made sure that didn’t happen.
UConn (5-10-2) plays No. 12 Northeastern on Tuesday in the first of two games between the two teams. Puck drop at the XL Center is at 7:05 p.m.