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UConn men’s hockey falls to RPI, 5-3

An ugly stretch in the middle of the game doomed the Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey’s disappointing start to the season continues. The Huskies dropped their second straight game, falling to the RPI Engineers 5-3.

Here’s how it went down:

Second period struggle bus

After 20 minutes, UConn held a 1-0 lead. The Huskies controlled play and “tilted the ice” like Cavanaugh wanted after last night’s loss. While they only managed the single goal, the Huskies routinely produced scoring opportunities.

Those good vibes quickly disappeared once the second period began. Just 41 seconds in, RPI tied the game after the Huskies failed to get it out of the defensive zone despite a few tries. Not long after, the Engineers took the lead on a shot that went bar-down and just crossed the goal line.

The two teams went back and forth for much of the period before RPI struck again. UConn gave up the puck in its own end and the Engineers quickly gathered it up and scored another one.

The intermission didn’t do much to help the Huskies. RPI scored against just two minutes into the final period and added another less than a minute later on its sole power play of the day. After going down 5-1, UConn finally started putting more pressure on the Engineers. The Huskies found the back of the net two more times but it was too little, too late.

Freshmen impress

If there’s any silver lining to the loss, its that freshmen contributed to each of UConn’s three goals. Yan Kuznetsov ripped a one-timer to notch the Huskies’ first goal and assisted on the second, which was scored by Vladislav Firstov. On the third goal, Firstov passed it to fellow freshman Harrison Rees, whose shot was deflected past the goaltender by Jachym Kondelik.

After the game, Cavanaugh went out of his way to praise the team’s freshmen defenders in particular.

“We had four freshmen on defense tonight,” he said. “I thought maybe Yan Kuznetsov had his best game of the year. I thought Jake Flynn played really well. I thought Harrison [Rees] played well. That wasn’t really the issue.”

Inexperience showing

With the loss, UConn falls to 0-2-1 on the season and have played like a team with 18 underclassmen. The Huskies lack chemistry, make too many mistakes and struggle with consistency, among other problems. But even still, it’s disappointing that UConn can’t beat the likes of RPI and Army with the amount of talent on its roster.

After the game, Cavanaugh admitted the team’s performance hasn’t been up to par.

”It’s a long season. It’s my job to make sure that this team is getting better every week and improving as a program,” he said. “While this weekend was disappointing for us, I still very good about this team and I feel very confident in myself and the staff that we’ll get this team going in the right direction.”

Other notes

  • RPI’s final goal was the first time UConn has not successfully killed off a penalty this season.
  • This is the Huskies’ longest winless streak since 2014-15 — UConn’s first year in Hockey East — when it took until the fourth game for the team to pick up its first win.

Next up

UConn makes a return to trip to RPI next Friday, Oct. 18 where the Huskies will look for revenge on the Engineers.