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UConn Men’s Hockey Falls To Quinnipiac, 4-2

UConn can’t survive a flat start and saw freshman Ruslan Iskhakov injured in the loss.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Fresh off a 5-2 victory over Army on Friday, the UConn men’s hockey team returned to Connecticut to take on in-state rival Quinnipiac. While the Huskies came out flat in a 4-2 loss to the Bobcats, UConn also saw their standout freshman Ruslan Iskhakov be stretchered off the ice after a hard hit early in the third period.

Iskhakov, who scored his first collegiate goal in the win over Army, was laid out by Quinnipiac’s Brogan Rafferty 3:24 into the third period and went down immediately, never motioning to get up. Paramedics came out on to the ice to stop the bleeding and loaded him onto a stretcher to get him out of the arena. His status is unknown at this time.

“I think he was taken to the hospital. From what I hear, he’s okay. He’s moving,” head coach Cavanaugh said of Iskhakov.

Rafferty was hit with a major penalty for charging and ejected from the game.

The Bobcats (2-0) got off to a hot start, quickly taking a 2-0 lead on two even-strength goals. Brandon Fortunato got things started with a shot that beat Huskies goaltender Adam Huska short side at 4:17 to go up 1-0. Less than two minutes later, Odeen Tufto reigned in a shot from teammate Wyatt Bongiovanni and snuck one around Huska with a backhand shot for his second goal of the season and to give Quinnipiac a 2-0 lead.

UConn (1-1) wasn’t able to do much until the final half of the opening period. The Huskies went on the power play at 14:03, but couldn’t do anything with it. However, UConn would get on the board three minutes on a wild goal from freshman Johnny Evans. Evans skated down to the goal line and fired a shot at Bobcats goalie Keith Petruzelli that beat him short side for a near impossible goal.

“We got back in the first period with our goal, I thought we quieted the crowd,” Cavanaugh said. “I thought we ended the first period okay.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, UConn couldn’t carry over any momentum after the first intermission. They mustered just two shots and racked up two penalties in the period. The Bobcats outshot them 10-2 in middle period alone and 39-26 on the night. Huska made 24 saves for the Huskies while Petruzelli made 11 for Quinnipiac.

“We took penalties because we were chasing the puck,” Cavanaugh said. “They totally outplayed us in the second period.”

Quinnipiac couldn’t do any damage on the two penalties and one from Corson Green that carried over to start the second period, going 0-3 in the second and 0-4 for the game. However, the Bobcats would tack on another even-strength goal as William Falstrom put home a pass from Alex Whelan on a 2-on-1 advantage on a fast break to make it 3-1 Quinnipiac at 12:32.

Following Iskhakov’s injury, the Huskies couldn’t capatilize on the major penalty and later negated it with a penalty of their own in the third period. However, UConn managed to pull within one goal with 8:10 to play thanks to a power play goal from Carter Turnbull. After Quinnipiac’s TJ Friedman was sent off for tripping, Turnbull has his first shot in a scramble in front of the net rejected before gathering the rebound and beating Petruzelli glove side to make it 3-2.

UConn couldn’t complete the effort, pulling Huska with under two minutes left before Falstrom tacked on an empty-netter with 96 seconds left.

The Huskies return to action Friday night in their Hockey East opener on the road at Providence. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.