A sloppy effort from UConn men’s hockey resulted in a 6-2 blowout at the hands of the No. 10 UMass Minutemen. The Huskies drop to 1-4-1 both on the season and in Hockey East play.
Special teams struggle
UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh aptly summed up the entire game in a few sentences postgame.
“I think the story of this game was special teams plain and simple,” he said. “They went 3-6 and we went 0-5. I thought that was the game. I thought five-on-five, it was pretty even game. I thought we had a lot of chances.”
The Huskies’ penalty kill — which entered the game having played well this season — was even worse then the stat sheet indicated. Two UConn penalties occurred during its own power plays, which resulted in a stretch of 4v4 hockey followed by a shortened UMass power play. That meant the Huskies had four full, two-minute penalty kills and allowed a goal on three of them.
Not only did the Huskies go to the box often, they went at inopportune times. Freshman defenseman John Spetz had a particularly rough night as he wiped out two UConn power plays in the first period and then killed the Huskies’ momentum in the third period with his third penalty of the night. The latter resulted in another UMass goal.
“We certainly took too many penalties,” Cavanaugh said. “Now, I haven’t seen them so I really don’t want to comment on the penalties because I’ve always said if you’re playing hard and you finish your check and you get a boarding penalty or occasional charging penalty, you’ll take those and you can kill them. If they’re lazy stick penalties, that’s stuff we have to avoid. So I haven’t seen the penalties so I can’t comment on them but obviously I don’t we don’t want to be taking [six] penalties a game.”
On the other end, UConn’s power play was toothless. The Huskies had five opportunities with an extra skater — though two were wiped out by the aforementioned Spetz penalties — and failed to create many grade-A chances. UConn’s power play is now 2-31 on the season.
Comeback bid squashed
For a few minutes, UConn looked like it might threaten another third period comeback against UMass.
Trailing 3-0 after the second intermission, the Huskies finally found the back of the net off the stick of Hudson Schandor. Jake Flynn won the puck behind the net and got it to Nick Capone, who sent a pass to Schandor in front of net. The freshman blasted a one-timer into the back of the net to get UConn back within two.
Just over a minute later, Harrison Rees fired a shot from the blue line which UMass goaltender Matt Murray stopped. However, the rebound trickled out in front of the goal and ended up on the stick of Jonny Evans, who wristed it home.
Just like that, UConn cut the deficit to just 3-2 with 15:50 to play.
However, the momentum didn’t last. UMass responded with three goals in six minutes shortly thereafter to take a 6-2 lead and put the Huskies away for good.
Since you asked nicely... here's @StLouisBlues prospect @mkessel72’s power play bomb from @CGicewicz and @bobbytrivigno for his third goal in three games #NewMass | #Flagship pic.twitter.com/9D415jTQJX— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) December 23, 2020
UConn men’s hockey returns to action next Monday, Dec. 27, against Providence at Freitas Ice Forum. Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m.