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UConn men’s hockey defeats Dartmouth, 4-1

The Huskies dominated for long stretches of the game but needed all 60 minutes to earn the win.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey earned a 4-1 victory on the road over the Dartmouth Big Green that was probably closer than it should’ve been. The Huskies dominated play and out-shot the hosts 38-13 but didn’t find the back of the net until the third period.

Carter Turnbull and Vlad Firstov both scored to put UConn ahead before Marc Gatcomb and Ryan Tverberg notched empty-netters to seal the victory.

“I thought we played a really complete game looking at the final box,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We held them to 13 shots in the game. That was part of our game plan, to really protect the front of our net.”

UConn didn’t break through until the first minute of the third period. As a Dartmouth penalty expired, Turnbull sniped a puck into the far post from the face-off circle for his first goal of the year to put the Huskies up 1-0.

The lead didn’t last long, though. Just over three minutes later, Dartmouth missed two grade-A chances before Joey Musa finally converted from the slot off a centering pass to even things at 1-1.

Despite the quick response from the hosts, UConn didn’t blink.

“We were resilient,” Cavanaugh said. “We got that goal and then they made it 1-1 and earlier in the year, we shrank when a team did something like that, but we still kept our foot on the gas.”

Goals continued to be hard to come by for the Huskies, though. UConn came up empty on a pair of power plays — part of an 0-7 night for that unit overall — got robbed on a breakaway from Cassidy Bowes and had to kill off a penalty of its own.

Just as Dartmouth’s power play expired, Artem Shlaine came out of the box, skated across the ice and took a pass up the boards from Tverberg. Shlaine spun around and delivered a perfect pass to a wide-open Firstov, who buried his shot to give the Huskies the 2-1 advantage with just under six minutes to play.

Trailing by a goal, the Big Green pulled their goaltender with 3:36 remaining and UConn quickly made them pay. The Huskies prevented Dartmouth from creating any dangerous opportunities with the extra skater and put the game away with an empty-netter from Gatcomb. Tverberg added another for good measure to give UConn the 4-1 victory.

Dartmouth goalie Clay Stevenson did all he could to steal a win for his team. The Huskies generated all kinds of chances — off the rush, tip-ins and re-directs, power play chances — but were stoned time and time against by the net-minder.

“He was stopping everything,” Cavanaugh said of Stevenson.

While UConn owned much of the game, it still needed a few big penalty kills. In the second period, Dartmouth had a 1:18-long 5-on-3 power play after John Spetz and Firstov both went to the box. Despite such a long two-man advantage, the Huskies kept Dartmouth off the board — in part thanks to some luck like a broken stick on an attempted one-timer — and maintained the tie.

“It was a huge kill because I thought we were dominating the game and that’s one of those situations where if they score on that five on three, all of a sudden it’s like ‘Jeez, what kind of night is this gonna be?’” Cavanaugh said. “But the guys really beared down.”

With the win, UConn improves to 4-3-0 on the season. The Huskies will travel for a two-game series at Maine next weekend.

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