UConn men’s hockey completed the sweep of New Hampshire on Saturday, notching a 3-2 win in front of a season-high 6,681 at the XL Center.
“[Ojantakanen] challenged the team to finish the weekend and I thought we did that,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.
The Huskies grabbed 36 shots on net, breaking an 11-game streak of fewer than 30 shots generated and their highest total since Nov. 21 at Vermont. Adam Karashik scored two goals and Wyatt Newpower added one on the power play, while UConn held New Hampshire to 0-7 on the power play to continue a streak of 19 consecutive penalties killed.
Karashik took tic-tac-toe passes from Spencer Naas at the top of the slot before he took Alexander Payusov’s feed from down low and fired his shot through traffic from the top of the right circle put the home side on top 1-0.
The initial 20 minutes was full of up-and-down play, with lots of penalties and a 15-14 shot margin in favor of UConn and got even closer when Marcus Vela scored from just outside the the right hash marks with 17 seconds to go in the frame.
“You never want to give up a goal in the last minute of a period,” Cavanaugh said.
Until two seconds to go, it was going to be hard to tell who had the upper hand, but Eric MacAdams took a major cross-checking penalty, giving the Huskies 4:58 of power play time in the second period with which to score as many as they could.
At 2:35 of the period, after being denied from the same exact spot with an excellent glove save by Mike Robinson just a few moments before, Newpower fired a one-timer on a rebound from the right face-off circle and the Huskies were back on top.
UConn rode the momentum from that extended power play to a 17-3 shots advantage in the middle period, and the Wildcats could not hold onto the puck for any extended amount of time.
“We were able to keep our momentum and really dominated the period,” Cavanaugh said.
However, New Hampshire came out firing in the third period, tying it up just 3:24 into the stanza on a rebound from Charlie Kelleher just outside the left side of the crease.
The Wildcats continued to put pressure on Creel and the Husky defense, but they were able to hold onto the tie game, battling through a penalty kill and eventually tying the game with just over nine minutes to go.
Jesse Schwartz funneled the puck to Karashik on the right point and his one-timer bounced off the ice, fooling Robinson for the game-winner and his second goal of the afternoon.
“I saw there was a lane there and I was throwing pucks on net. Coach always says, ‘throw pucks on net and good things happen’,” Karashik said. “I just shot it down there and it got a good bounce.”
UConn (11-16-2, 8-11-1) resumes conference play against No. 16 Boston College on Friday. Puck drop at the XL Center is at 7:05 p.m. and the game can be heard on WTIC 1080 AM and seen on ESPN3.