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UConn men’s hockey comes back against New Hampshire

The Huskies were down a goal with four minutes left to play.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey was down 2-1 to New Hampshire with four minutes to go at the Whittemore Center, but the Huskies scored three goals in the final 3:17 to take a 4-2 win on Friday.

Spencer Naas, Zac Robbins, Corey Ronan and Jesse Schwartz had the goals for the Huskies, while Tanner Creel made 24 saves on 26 shots.

“I thought [Creel] played pretty well,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “He played well enough for us to win.”

UConn came out firing in the first period, taking six of the first seven shots on goal before New Hampshire went on the power play just under four minutes into the contest. They were lucky to emerge with a tie game.

At the tail end of the man advantage, Creel made a great left pad save and the puck fell to Marcus Vela just outside the crease with an open net, but his shot went over the cross bar.

A few minutes later, the Huskies regained the upper hand with a power play of their own and about a minute after the power play ended, 9:42 into the contest, the puck crossed the goal line for the first time.

Max Kalter took a loose puck at the top of the slot and one-timed it toward the net. Robbins was there to deflect it in for his first collegiate goal.

“Coach tells us to get in front of the net and good things happen and that’s what happened,” Robbins said.

The Huskies ultimately emerged tied 12-12 in shots on goal with the Wildcats, but the play leaned in favor of the road team.

That would change in the middle 20 minutes. New Hampshire outshot UConn 10-7 and would take the lead by the time the horn sounded.

“They were outworking us,” Cavanaugh said. “We couldn’t establish any type of forecheck.”

Charlie Kelleher would knot it up just past the midway point at 11:02 with a shot from a poor angle on the left side.

The Huskies looked poised to retake the lead just inside two minutes remaining when Brian Rigali and Kalter got a two-on-zero on Danny Tirone and missed the net. Approximately 90 seconds later, the home side would take the lead when Anthony Wyse scored through traffic.

However, in the final stanza, UConn outshot New Hampshire 9-4 on their way to victory.

“We came together as a group and fought our way back,” Robbins said.

Schwartz scored his eighth goal of the year in the slot on a hard pass from Adam Karashik to tie it up before Naas registered the game-winning tally from the bottom of the left circle.

“When [Schwartz] tied it up, we weren’t satisfied, we wanted another one,” Naas said. “We weren’t satisfied with tying the game, we wanted to win it and that’s what we were able to do.”

Ronan finished it off with an empty-netter with 18 seconds to go.

UConn (10-6-2, 7-11-1) and New Hampshire do battle again at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday at XL Center. The game will be televised on MyTV9.