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UConn men’s hockey takes down No. 20 Northeastern, 5-3

The Huskies bounced back from a pair of losses with a resilient victory on the road.

UConn’s Nick Capone #21 celebrates with Marc Garcomb #17 after scoring in the first period.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey head coach Mike Cavanaugh wanted more from his offense and he got it on Tuesday night as the Huskies defeated No. 20 Northeastern, 5-3.

After entering the game following a pair of losses at Ohio State in which the Huskies failed to score for the final 78:43, UConn scored five goals in the first two periods en route to the victory. Cavanaugh’s side improves to 3-3-0 on the season and 2-1-0 in Hockey East play.

Northeastern struck first less than five minutes in. Tyler Spott collected the puck from the top of the face-off circle and delivered it to Ty Jackson in front of net. With his back to the goal, Jackson back-handed a shot past UConn goaltender Darion Hanson to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

After Northeastern dominated the first seven minutes of the game, UConn regrouped during the first media timeout and started to gain more control of the puck. The key turning point came when Nick Capone went to the penalty box for a cross-check, putting the third-worst power play unit in the nation on the ice.

Despite being down a man, UConn began to get some of its best opportunities to that point in the game. Kevin O’Neil broke free on a breakaway but couldn’t beat Northeastern goaltender Devon Levi. Shortly after, Northeastern handed the puck to UConn’s Jachym Kondelik in front of net, though his shot was also stopped.

The breakthrough finally came as Capone’s penalty expired. The sophomore came out of the box and quickly sprung free on another breakaway. This time, UConn wouldn’t be denied as Capone buried his shot to tie the game at 1-1.

UConn’s attack continued to stress Northeastern’s defense. After Cavanaugh called for his team to improve its offensive zone play and score more greasy goals, Ryan Wheeler and Kondelik delivered.

Vladislav Firstov dropped the puck in the center of the ice to Wheeler, who fired the shot at the net. With the 6-foot-5 frame of Kondelik taking away Levi’s line of vision, the puck snuck inside the post to give UConn a 2-1 lead.

Less than a minute later, O’Neil entered the zone along the boards and flicked a back-handed to pass to Capone, who tapped the puck past Levi to double the lead.

The second period featured non-stop, end-to-end action and four goals from both teams. Penalties against Roman Kinal and Marc Gatcomb gave Northeastern a minute-long power play and the hosts quickly converted to get the deficit down to 3-2.

It didn’t take long for UConn to respond — something which would become a theme in the second period. Chase Bradley crashed the net after back-to-back shots from Ryan Tverberg and Gatcomb and cleaned up the loose puck for his first collegiate goal, which restored UConn’s lead to two.

Northeastern went back on the power play after a boarding penalty by Capone and once again capitalized. Justin Hryckowian received the puck directly in front of net, put a nasty deke on Hanson and scored to have Northeastern trail 4-3.

The hosts barely had time to celebrate before UConn answered back. Just 30 seconds later, Jonny Evans forced a turnover behind the net and passed it to Gatcomb, who sniped his shot home and again gave UConn a two-goal lead.

Despite all the action in the second period, Gatcomb’s goal proved to the final score of the game. Northeastern failed to covert on its lone power play in the third period and UConn saw out the final 20 minutes for the victory.