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Hockey East Quarterfinals: UConn men’s hockey dropped by Providence, 6-1

The Huskies’ season ends in disappointing fashion.

Stephen Slade courtesy of UConn athletics

UConn men’s hockey’s season came to an end with a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Providence Friars in the Hockey East Quarterfinals.

“Just wasn’t our night tonight,” a dejected Mike Cavanaugh said postgame. “I gotta give credit to Providence, I thought they played a great game.”

Providence struck first 8:47 into the first period when Parker Ford fired a shot into traffic and got a bounce to find the back of the net. The Friars pulled away early in the second with two goals within a minute of each other take a 3-0 lead.

UConn finally got the board when Jachym Kondelik chopped a rebound home to cut the deficit to two but the Huskies just couldn’t find another goal. Providence pushed the lead back to three early in the third period and added two more goals to put UConn away for good.

“The fourth goal, we started with a good shift in third and then they come down and score,” Cavanaugh said. “That was kind of a backbreaker.”

The Huskies finish the year with a 10-11-2 record and fall to 0-9 in Hockey East Playoff games.

“Just didn’t go our way”

From the opening face-off, UConn looked disheveled. The Huskies were sloppy with the puck and struggled to get clean breakouts from their defensive zone. Providence carried the play for long stretches and out-shot UConn 19-9 in the first period, though that only resulted in a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

“They came out and jumped us in the first and I thought we survived that and played okay,” Cavanaugh said.

Three of Providence’s most crucial goals came in the opening minutes of the final periods. The Friars scored twice in the first three minutes of the second period to go up 3-0 while they notched their fourth just 1:45 into the third.

“I think it was more of the puck bounced, I don’t think we came out slow,” Cavanaugh said. “I really liked this team. They’ve competed hard all year long and tonight, it just didn’t go our way.”

UConn also struggled to generate offense all night long. The Huskies managed just 21 shots in the opening two periods before throwing 20 on net in the third. Too often, they went one-and-done in the offensive zone and rarely kept Providence hemmed in.

“One of the keys to the game we thought were face-offs, and winning the battles in the house,” Cavanaugh said. “Face-offs were fairly even but they won more battles in the house than we did.”

The Huskies had a near-goal waived off after the officials determined the puck did not fully cross the goal line before PC goaltender Jaxson Stauber covered it with his glove and Kondelik had a shot slide parallel to the goal line through the crease before getting cleared.

“It just didn’t go our way,” Cavanaugh said. “It was just stuff like that didn’t work out but Providence still they played a better game than we did so I don’t want to just say they were luckier than we were. They played a better game.”

Turning point

UConn had a big opportunity to claw back into the game with consecutive power plays in the third period when it was still a three-score game. A goal would’ve given the Huskies life with more than 12 minutes remaining.

It seemed like UConn might’ve gotten the score it needed when Hudson Schandor’s shot appeared to cross the goal line and the goal horn went off at Freitas Ice Forum, but the nearby official quickly waved it off. The play was reviewed and while the replay showed the puck nearly crossing the goal line, there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn it.

That didn’t discourage the Huskies. Shortly after, John Spetz fired a rocket from the blue line that hit the post and bounced out. Eventually, both power plays ran out and Providence scored less than a minute later to go up 5-1, which put it out of reach for good.

Other notes

  • Cavanaugh revealed postgame that goaltender Tomas Vomacka has played with a torn meniscus for “the last month of the season.”

“He’s grinded it out so I got to give that kid all the credit in the world,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s fought through a lot of pain to finish the season and I wouldn’t have wanted another goaltender in the net with the way he competes and what he went through for this team.”

  • Junior forward Kale Howarth left the game in the second period with a gruesome-looking knee injury. Cavanaugh did not have an update postgame.

“I don’t know yet but it did not look good,” he said.