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UConn Men’s Hockey Can’t Complete Comeback, Falls To Sacred Heart, 2-1

UConn men’s hockey losing streak to their in-state rival extends to six games.

Sacred Heart’s Matt Tugnutt (19) puts one past UConn goaltender Adam Huska (30) in the first period.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey winless streak extended to five games on Tuesday night, falling to in-state rival Sacred Heart at the XL Center, 2-1.

Here’s how it went down:

Headlines

Sacred Heart Curse Continues

Sacred Heart men’s hockey is far from one of the elite programs in college hockey, but the Pioneers have been an enigma to UConn recently. With the loss, the Huskies have dropped six-straight against Sacred Heart, dating back to 2014. Neither coach had much of an explanation for it.

“There’s no special potion or anything like that. Every year is its own story,” Sacred Heart head coach C.J. Marottolo said.

Whatever the reason is, UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh wants to know.

“I wish I had that answer. I don’t know,” Cavanaugh said. “Last year was a crazy game where I thought we completely dominated the game and didn’t win it. Tonight we didn’t completely dominate the game but I thought for the better portion we controlled play.”

Stagnant Special Teams

While UConn may have controlled some facets of the game, Sacred Heart’s special teams dominated the Huskies. UConn allowed both a power play goal and an empty-netter while going 0-6 on their own power play chances.

Cavanaugh feels they aren’t creating enough chances for themselves when they have the extra skater.

“I think it’s too stagnant. We’re a perimeter power play, we’re not getting enough to the net. We’ve got to get more movement, whether it’s the puck moving, bodies moving, we can’t be stagnant on the power play and it’s something we’ll continue to work on.”

Scoring Struggles

Over the last two games, UConn scored just one goal and allowed eight. It’s not as if the Huskies didn’t their chances tonight with 34 shots, they simply haven’t converted.

“It’s a goal-scoring sport and we haven’t scored goals,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re in a real tough patch. We just have to stay hungry.”

Cavanaugh thought his team did a decent job of creating chances but they’re just not getting the right bounces at the moment.

“I feel like someone’s got a UConn Husky stuffed animal with a voodoo doll with a lot of pins in it,” Cavanaugh. “I just feel like we’re snakebit scoring goals. There were a couple times tonight where I thought we had open nets and couldn’t find a way to get the puck in the net...We got a lot of pucks to the net. If we keep doing it, they’ll find their way in.”

Turning Point

On UConn’s first power play of the game just two and a half minutes into the game, Karl El-Mir had a pair of chances that could’ve put the Huskies up early. But instead of taking the lead, UConn gave up the short-handed goal and went down 1-0. From there, they had to play catch-up the rest of the game and ultimately fell short.

Stat of the Game

UConn falls to 2-12 against in-state foes since joining Hockey East (h/t Bob Joyce). One of those wins came this season on New Year’s Eve against Yale while the other was a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac in the 2014-15 season.

Next Up

UConn returns to Hockey East play on Friday at home against Boston College at 7 p.m. in Hartford.