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Recap: UConn Men’s Hockey Defeats No. 11 Northeastern

The win gives UConn a sweep of the season series against Northeastern.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The UConn Huskies overcame a string of penalties and a frantic finish to grab their sixth straight victory after taking down Northeastern 4-2 at Matthews Arena. It was UConn’s first road win over the fake Huskies and first sweep over them as well.

When a team has a power play as dominant as No. 11 Northeastern does, converting on 25.8 percent of its chances heading into UConn’s matchup with the other Huskies from Boston, it’s important to limit penalties. UConn failed at that early on, committing three minor offenses in a 10:56 span between the first and second period, and four overall, but they were able to get it done. Goaltender Tanner Creel made 34 saves.

“I was really happy with our team’s effort,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.

It’s UConn’s first six-game winning streak since 2001-02 and they have exceeded their highest point total since joining Hockey East with 21.

UConn carried the play in the first period, despite not scoring any goals, the Huskies out-shot Northeastern 18-8 and were able to limit NU’s top line of Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, and Nolan Stevens to just one shot on goal that came on the power play at the end of the frame.

After the road team killed its first penalty, they were able to go get a pair of goals. Spencer Naas, registering a point in his sixth straight game, scored from the top of the right circle through lots of traffic just shy of five minutes into the second period.

Eighteen seconds later, Freeman put a deflection on a Miles Gendron shot that got by Cayden Primeau to give UConn a 2-0 lead. Gendron has now been on the scoresheet in five straight games.

Things looked better for UConn past the midway point of the contest when they had successfully killed off two penalties, one at 6:27 and the other at 9:55 to hold on to the lead. Their outlook improved more when Maxim Letunov buried a goal after a takeaway in the defensive zone early in the third, making it 3-0, but Northeastern was not ready to quit.

Jeremy Davies drove to the net and Stevens corralled a loose puck and put it in the open net at 8:30 as Alexander Payusov was called for tripping. This put the home team in position to quickly erase the lead. But for the fourth time, UConn’s penalty kill was up to the task.

“That’s one of the best power plays in the country and we were able to kill off all four and that was big,” Cavanaugh said.

With just under seven minutes to go, Northeastern got within one an impressive tic-tac-toe play from the trio of Gaudette, Sikura, and Stevens. Gaudette slid the puck just to the left of the goal, setting the stage for a frenetic finish that Corey Ronan was able to settle with an empty-netter with 2.3 seconds remaining.

UConn (14-16-2, 10-11-1) plays next on Friday at the XL Center against Boston University. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m.