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UConn Men’s Hockey Splits Games At Ice Vegas Invitational

The Huskies struggled in the first game but rebounded to earn the win in the consolation round.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

In their first games of 2019, UConn men’s hockey went 1-1 in the Ice Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Huskies are now 7-12-1 overall and 2-1 in the second half.

Game 1: No. 17 Western Michigan 5, UConn 1

Coming off a win over No. 15 Yale, UConn couldn’t repeat the upset against the No. 17 Western Michigan Broncos.

The Huskies were overwhelmed from the opening puck drop, getting just two shots off in the first period. Western Michigan attacked UConn’s net with 15 shots and found the back of the net twice in the first 20 minutes.

However, after the first intermission, the Huskies regrouped. UConn went down 3-0 early in the second period off of a deflection from a shot but recovered and found the scoreboard in the closing minutes. Karl El-Mir got in front of net and redirected a shot from Evan Wisocky into the goal for his 10th goal of the season.

But that would be all the Huskies would manage offensively. The Broncos extended their lead to 4-1 early in the third off a turnover in the neutral zone that beat UConn goaltender Adam Huska on the inside left post. Western Michigan would tag on another goal to bring the scoreline to 5-1.

Both teams had five power plays. The Huskies’ penalty kill was strong and didn’t allow a single goal, while UConn’s lone goal came on the advantage.

Game 2: UConn 6, St. Lawrence 3

UConn bounced back in the consolation game of the tournament, downing the St. Lawrence Saints, 6-3. The Huskies got a balanced scoring effort, with six different players scoring goals. The freshmen were especially strong, accounting for three goals and seven of the team’s 17 points.

UConn came out on fire, jumping ahead to a 4-0 lead before the 10-minute mark of the period. Max Kalter opened the scoring just over two minutes in by putting home a rebound off a shot from Brian Rigali. Kale Howarth didn’t wait long to make it 2-0 with a rip from the left circle, quickly followed by a goal from Marc Gatcomb, his first collegiate goal.

St. Lawrence changed goaltenders after trailing 3-0 quickly, but the Huskies continued the scoring onslaught. Karl El-Mir sent the puck from the corner to Kondelik at the circle, who sent it in for the fourth goal of the day.

The Saints would get one back before the period was out, but UConn still went into the first intermission leading 4-1.

Despite conceding the goal, the Huskies didn’t let St. Lawrence carry the momentum into the second period. UConn scored the first goal of the period off the stick of Benjamin Freeman to take a 5-1 lead.

A little more than five minutes later, the Saints got one back after Huska got beat on 3-on-2 break. Alexander Payusov took the team lead with his 11th goal of the season to push the scoreline to 6-2 Huskies, burying a pass from El-Mir.

UConn fell apart a bit in the final period, giving St. Lawrence four power play opportunities, but allowed just one goal.

The Huskies set a season-high with 44 shots and limited the Saints to just 22.

Next, UConn returns to Hockey East play at Merrimack on Jan. 12.