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UConn men’s hockey loses to No. 2 Quinnipiac, 2-0

In the CT Ice final, the Huskies played their best game of the season but couldn’t crack the top defense in the nation.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey came up short in the Connecticut Ice championship game, falling to the No. 2 Quinnipiac Bobcats, 2-0.

The Huskies put together their best performance of the season but couldn’t crack Quinnipiac’s defense — which entered the game with a nation-best 1.04 goals per game and tied an NCAA record with its 12th shutout on Sunday — and goaltender Yaniv Perets — who broke a program-record for the most shutouts in a season with his ninth.

After 47 minutes of intense, scoreless hockey, the Bobcats finally broke through. Ty Smilanic flew in on the rush and sent a back-handed shot at UConn goaltender Darion Hanson. The goalie couldn’t collect the rebound and Desi Burgart put the loose puck in the back of the net to give Quinnipiac a 1-0 lead. The Bobcats added an empty netter in the final minute.

Despite the loss, Hanson was excellent between the pipes. He stopped 25 of 26 shots and came up with tough saves all day long to keep UConn in the game.

The first two periods featured great play from both teams but neither could find the back of the net. Each side had a power play in the first and second periods — with Quinnipiac forcing Hanson to make six saves on the latter.

The action cranked up at the end of the second when both offenses began to pepper the net with shots. Both goaltenders came up with big stops to keep the game scoreless.

At one point, UConn created a flurry of shots right around the crease but Perets came up with a stop for each one. Later, Jonny Evans had a grade-A chance on the back post but sent his attempt wide.

The Huskies pulled Hanson with 2:47 remaining and controlled possession but struggled to get the puck down to the net through the tightly-packed Quinnipiac defense. With 39 seconds left, the Bobcats broke out of the zone and skated the puck all the way to the goal for the game-sealing empty-netter.

UConn out-shot Quinnipiac 29-27 and owned stretches of the game but just couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Perets. The Huskies fall to 12-11-0 on the season and will return to action on Friday against Providence on Friday at the XL Center.