No. 7 UConn men’s hockey earned a shootout victory over the No. 9 Providence Friars courtesy of Samu Salminen, who scored the only goal in the tie-breaker. The game goes into the books as a 1-1 tie but the Huskies take a valuable extra point towards the Hockey East standings with the shootout victory.
At times, the contest resembled more of a brawl than a hockey games at time as an intense, physical battle for all 60 minutes. The first goal didn’t come until the third period when Providence scored a shorthander but UConn pulled even on the power play after Justin Pearson buried a rebound.
Following an uneventful overtime, the two teams went to a shootout to decide the points. The Huskies sent Salminen out first and the freshman buried the chance — which proved to be the only goal. UConn goalie Logan Terness turned away Providence’s first attempt and the Friars failed to put their final two chances on goal, which give the Huskies the shootout victory.
UConn’s penalty kill excelled with a perfect 7-for-7 night while the power play converted on 1-of-5 opportunities — though it did allow the shorthanded goal. Terness stopped all but one of the 36 shots he faced between the pipes.
UConn continued its trend of slow starts — but this time, the early struggles lasted the duration of the first period. The Huskies had 15 attempts in the opening 20 minutes but only three of them made it on target. UConn’s only chance of note came on their first power play when Matthew Wood snapped a one-timer off the post.
However, the two teams went into the first intermission deadlocked at 0-0 thanks to UConn’s stout defense and strong penalty kill. The Huskies survived a pair of power plays from the Friars and limited the danger around Terness, though the goalie still made big saves when called upon.
In the second period, most of the action came in the final minutes. Providence went on the power play at the 16:10 mark but UConn ended up with the best chances during the two minutes. Jake Percival and Ryan Tverberg each stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in for shorthanded breakaways but both were denied by Providence goalie Philip Svedeback. Shortly after the penalty expired, Tverberg attempted a wrap-around but Svedeback made a post-to-post save and got his toe on the shot to keep it out.
UConn’s penalty kill excelled in the middle stanza, keeping the Friars out of the back of the net on the three power plays and limiting the hosts to just three shots on those opportunities. After a lopsided first period, Providence held just a 12-10 advantage in shots on goal in the second.
In the third period, power plays continued to benefit the team down a man. The Huskies got the first opportunity on the advantage and after a few shot attempts, Providence finally cleared the zone. As UConn retrieved the puck, Andrew Lucas lost it at his own blue line, where Chase Yoder picked it up, skated in and beat Terness to give the Friars a 1-0 lead on the shorthanded goal.
Shortly afterwards, the Huskies nearly evened the game with a shorty of their own when Tverberg skated in on a breakaway but again, Svedeback turned him away.
After struggling for most of the game, UConn’s power play finally came through. The Huskies went on the advantage with 5:10 courtesy of a boarding penalty on Providence. They dominated possession with the extra skater and finally broke through when Pearson knocked home a rebound to tie the game at 1-1 with 3:46 remaining. UConn controlled the final minutes but couldn’t find a late game-winner, which sent the game to overtime.
Neither team generated much in the extra period and the shootout victory handed the Huskies two of the three possible points. The two teams will return to action on Saturday at the XL Center. Puck drop is set for 3:05 p.m. ET.