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UConn Men’s Hockey Takes Down No. 10 Providence, 3-1

UConn played their most complete game of the season in the win.

UConn’s Alexander Payusov (9) goes to celebrate with Joseph Masonius who scored what turned out to be the winning goal against Providence.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

In a game that had a playoff-like feel to it with lots of physicality and speed, UConn men’s hockey defeated No. 10 Providence on Saturday at Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island.

“I was really proud of the effort right from the get-go,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

Johnny Austin, Joe Masonius and Maxim Letunov, each scored one goal while Tanner Creel made 26 saves.

The Huskies were also able to hold Providence to 0-7 on the power play.

“You can’t go 0-for-7 on the power play,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Early on, it seemed like it was going to be one of those games. Miles Gendron took an interference penalty just 14 seconds after the initial puck drop and though UConn killed it off, they had two solid early chances go by the wayside.

However, the Huskies continued to press and be the better team, outshooting Providence 12-8 with an even wider 24-10 advantage in attempts. They were able to score just after the midway point of the first on the stick of Johnny Austin. The senior took a loose puck on the top of the left circle and beat Hayden Hawkey through traffic.

“For us to get that first goal was big for us,” Cavanaugh said.

Just after eight minutes into the middle period, they doubled their lead. Joe Masonius made a nifty move into the slot after a right-to-left cross-ice pass from Karl El-Mir and the puck hit twine for the second time on the power play against a Friar penalty-killing unit that had allowed just 13 power play goals on 114 chances headed into the contest.

This would be it offensively for the Huskies. Providence took 14 shots to UConn’s four and put 34 attempts on Creel, who would allow one goal.

Brian Pinho received a pass in the slot from Erik Foley and the shutout was broken at 14:19 of the second, shrinking the Husky lead to 2-1.

“Every team in the league is going to put the push on us and we were able to weather the storm,” Cavanaugh said.

Buoyed by a string of penalties that gave the home team a short five-on-three in the early stages of the third, the Friars continued to stretch the Huskies’ defense, but Creel stood strong and Letunov iced it with an empty-netter.

UConn (9-16-2, 6-11-1 Hockey East) continues Hockey East play on the road on Friday against New Hampshire. Puck drop at Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire is at 7 p.m.