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Penalty Kill Issues Sink UConn Men’s Hockey Against No. 5 Providence

The Huskies’ specials teams were a mixed bag in the conference opener.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

In their Hockey East opener, the UConn Huskies men’s hockey team’s youth was on display against a veteran Providence Friars squad, ranked No. 5 in the nation entering the game. The Huskies were out-muscled, out-played and out-executed in a 7-2 beatdown at Schneider Arena.

The disparity was most apparent between the two teams when the Friars were on the power play as they converted three-of-four chances with an extra skater.

“We didn’t kill penalties well,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “That’s a pretty seasoned team over there and we have a long way to go.”

The Huskies played a solid first period and went into the intermission down just 1-0 with a 14-10 advantage in shots. However, things quickly fell apart in the second period.

UConn allowed a pair of power plays and Providence took advantage both times as part of a three-goal period to lead 4-1 entering the final period. The Friars’ third goal of the night came with just one second remaining on the power play.

A goal from Alexander Payusov cut the deficit to 4-2 and gave the Huskies life. Not long after, UConn killed their first penalty of the night. However, that would be their only penalty kill of the night as the Friars scored with a man advantage after a penalty on Jachym Kondelik.

Bright Spots

Despite the lopsided score, Cavanaugh wasn’t overly upset with his team’s performance.

“If the score is going to look like it’s not very good, I think our battle is actually better than it has been the last two games,” he said. “I was happy with our battle.”

While the penalty kill unit struggled, the Huskies’ power play was actually strong, converting two of their eight chances with the advantage. Ultimately, the coach wasn’t going to let one loss so early in the season bother him too much.

“It’s a long season and when you have nine freshmen in the lineup, they have to get a little seasoning and experience and that only comes with playing games. We’re certainly going to be better,” Cavanaugh said. “We’ll be much better as the season goes on.”

Update on Ruslan Iskhakov

After a brutal hit knocked him out of Tuesday night’s game vs. Quinnipiac, freshman Ruslan Iskhakov was scratched from the game on Friday night. Cavanaugh confirmed after the game that the Russian is still dealing with a concussion and will remain day-to-day as he recovers.