UConn men’s hockey was ahead 1-0 in the third period but lost to the UNH Wildcats in overtime, 2-1. The Huskies drop to 3-5-1 but walk away with four of six possible points on the weekend.
Marc Gatcomb scored a power-play goal in the second period to give UConn the lead in the second period but New Hampshire bounced back with a game-tying goal with 7:12 left in regulation and a game-winning power-play goal in overtime.
Huskies stumble late
Though UConn held a 1-0 lead going into the final 20 minutes and had only given up one goal in its last eight periods of play, cracks were beginning to show in the Huskies’ defense. At the end of the second, UConn needed a trio of outstanding saves from Tomas Vomacka to kill off a pair of late penalties and preserve the shutout.
In the third period, UNH came out energized and jumped on the Huskies. UConn struggled to clear its defensive zone and barely generated any offense on the other end. Vomacka continued to hold strong until the Wildcats finally broke through in the final half of the period.
Angus Crookshank took the puck the length of the ice, beat Jake Flynn one-on-one, and then split Adam Karashik and Hudson Schandor with a pass to Jackson Pierson in front of net, who went bar down over Vomacka to tie the game at 1-1.
“They came out in the third period and... they played desperate and they deserved — quite frankly — to tie the game up. I thought they were out-playing us,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.
Neither team scored in regulation, which sent the game into 3-on-3 overtime. In the first minute, Jonny Evans picked up a boarding penalty (one which Cavanaugh called “unnecessary”), giving UNH a 4-on-3 power play.
Though the Huskies’ penalty kill had gone 3-3 to that point, the Wildcats made them pay in overtime. Pierson skated the puck from the corner towards the front of net and ripped a shot that beat both Harrison Reese and Vomacka for the win.
Though Cavanaugh credited UNH postgame, he also felt his team let the opportunity for the sweep slip out of their hands.
“They played more desperate hockey than we did,” Cavanaugh said. “They were pushing the pace and instead of us playing on our toes and dictating the pace of play, they did and we were back on our heels. We were playing hoping to win 1-0 instead of trying to get that second goal.”
Offensive struggles continue
UConn scored just three goals all weekend and is now averaging 1.89 goals per game on the season. The Huskies had plenty of chances throughout the game but either didn’t make UNH goaltender Mike Robinson work particularly hard or missed the frame altogether.
“We have to get more bodies to the net, more pucks to the net, and be tougher and stronger around the net,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s hard to score in Hockey East, you look at a lot of the games and it’s almost like a race to three. If someone can get to three it seems like they have a good chance to win.”
“I think we’re missing the net an awful lot too,” he added later. “I mean Carter Turnbull has a 2-on-1 and he rifles it off the glass. We have a chance on the power play and it’s off the back of the glass. When you’re struggling to score goals, you have to shoot five-hole and hope for rebounds and tips and deflections. So I think that’s an area where we got to get better.”
UConn outshot the visitors 37-33 but a lot of the chances were one-and-done. The Huskies struggled to keep the puck in their zone and struggled to generate sustained pressure.
Though UConn didn’t have two of its top forwards in Vladislav Firstov (World Juniors) and Kale Howarth (upper-body injury), UNH coach Mike Souza said his team hasn’t had a full practice in three weeks, so neither team was at full power.
Just over 10 to go here in the 3rd, Huskies still lead 1-0...— UConn Men's Hockey (@UConnMHOC) January 2, 2021
Big hit from frosh Nick Capone, a big part of the CT kid's game. pic.twitter.com/hhaCYUdn9p
- UConn scored its third power-play goal of the year (now 3-42) and snapped a streak of 15 empty power plays in a row.
- Jachym Kondelik and Carter Turnbull were credited with assists on Gatcomb’s goal.
- Jonny Evan’s six-game point streak came to an end.
UConn is scheduled to play UMass on Thursday and Saturday this upcoming week but that will likely be rescheduled since the two teams have already played each other three times this season.