On Friday night, the UConn Huskies took the ice at the XL Center and grabbed a much-needed win against Vermont, 5-1. From the opening face-off, the Huskies outplayed the Catamounts on their way to victory.
“I was very happy with the way the team responded,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “Overall I think it was a pretty good 60-minute win for our team... It’s been a mental thing for us,” he said. “We said ‘we just have to fight through it, it’s not going to last.’”
Spencer Naas scored a pair of goals while Justin Howell, Max Kalter, and Jeff Wight each had one. Joe Masonius added two assists.
The Huskies limited Vermont chances throughout the night, allowing just 26 shots.
UConn came out firing, playing much of the first period in the Vermont zone. They were creating dangerous chances and keeping Vermont along the boards.
Kalter opened the scoring at 11:33 of the first period. He took a handoff from Zac Robbins and though Vermont goalie Stefanos Lekkas got a piece of it, the puck got behind him and across the goal line.
Vermont was only 1-for-4 on the power play but their middle two chances saw their strongest play, including a goal, credited to Ross Colton early in the middle period, at 2:41.
Eight seconds later, UConn regained the lead and managed to outplay their high standard they set after the first 20 minutes. At 2:49, Benjamin Freeman threw a puck at the net from the left side and Howell deflected it in.
“We always talk about those first shifts after a goal for or a goal against,” Naas said. “In that case, we were able to respond quickly.”
Wight had the first of another quick pair of tallies about 10 minutes later, scoring at 12:06 in the second period when he deflected a hard shot from Masonius on the left point.
Naas batted home a rebound flying through the air at 13:14 to put the game out of reach for the Catamounts.
In the middle stanza, the Huskies outshot Vermont, 20-to-6 for a 30-to-12 advantage after 40 minutes. They were first to the puck, they were winning the battles and it showed on the scoreboard.
“I think last week that wasn’t the case,” Cavanaugh said. “We certainly made that a focus this week.”
The Huskies were able to keep the charging Catamounts at bay during the third period to complete the victory, adding some insurance with a late goal by Naas.
UConn (3-5-1, 2-2-1) gets back at it against Vermont on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. at the XL Center.
UConn Men’s Hockey and Vermont postgame press conference: