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No. 7 UConn men’s hockey plays to wild tie with No. 9 Providence

The Huskies erased a three-goal deficit early in the contest and then scored twice with the goalie pulled in the third period to send the game to overtime.

Daniel Connolly — The UConn Blog

No. 7 UConn men’s hockey and the No. 9 Providence Friars played to a wild tie on Saturday night, but the Huskies earned the extra point in the Hockey East standings thanks to their second shootout victory in as many days.

The Friars went ahead 3-0 in the first period but the Huskies clawed back with three unanswered goals to tie the game. After trading scores at the end of the second period, Providence went up 6-4 early in the third courtesy of two power-play goals during a major penalty and held that commanding lead into the final minutes.

With 2:57 to go, UConn pulled the goalie and scored a pair of goals with the empty net — including the equalizer with just 4.8 seconds left in regulation. Neither team found the winner in overtime which sent the game to a shootout, where the Huskies won it in the sixth round.

Ryan Tverberg scored twice — including the tying goal in the dying seconds — while John Spetz, Matthew Wood, Justin Pearson, and Samu Salminen all found the back of the net as well. Salminen scored in the third round of the shootout to keep UConn alive and Jake Percival won it in the sixth round to claim the extra point.

Arsenii Sergeev struggled in the opening period by allowing three soft goals but bounced back to make multiple breakaway stops and a game-saving block in the final seconds of overtime and then stood tall in the shootout.

UConn fell behind in the opening period after a series of turnovers and poor goaltending. Shortly after a power play expired, Providence found Nick Poisson on the back post, who fired a wrister five-hole on Sergeev to put the visitors up 1-0. A few minutes later, Brett Berard stole the puck after a face-off, skated in and it scored on a backhander to double the advantage. The Friars added another at the end of the period when Max Crozier found Bennett Schimek in front of the net to set up the third goal of the day.

While the Huskies’ defense didn’t help him out much, Sergeev struggled in the opening 20 minutes. He should’ve stopped the initial goal — he had a clear view of the shot and let it five-hole — and the other two were savable as well.

UConn wouldn’t go into the first intermission empty-handed, though. On its second power play of the day, Ryan Tverberg came in from the slot and sent the puck into the back of the net as the penalty expired.

The comeback continued in the second period. The Huskies went on the power play and — again — as the penalty expired, Spetz unloaded a cannon from the outside that found twine and cut the deficit down to just one. Five minutes later, Matthew Wood broke free on a breakaway and buried his fifth goal of the year to pull UConn even at 3-3.

It didn’t stay that way long, though. A minute later, Providence answered back on a 3v1 rush to re-take the lead, 4-3.

The final two minutes of the period saw swings of momentum in each direction — with Pearson at the center of both. He first scored on a rebound to tie the game at 4-4 and on the next shift, he committed a major boarding penalty. As a result, Pearson was ejected and the Friars got a five-minute power play.

While the Huskies killed off the final minutes of the second period, Providence made them pay as the third began. The Friars scored twice on the advantage to take a commanding 6-4 lead with 17 minutes remaining.

Although UConn had three power plays the rest of the game — including a 30-second 5-on-3 — but couldn’t capitalize. It pulled the goalie with 2:57 and quickly capitalized when Salminen scored his first collegiate goal on a tip-in to get back within one.

As the clock ticked down to the final seconds, Percival won a puck battle behind the net and got it to Andrew Lucas on the outside. The defenseman threw a Hail Mary-esque shot on goal which was stopped but bounced to Tverberg, who poked it in with 4.8 remaining.

In overtime, both teams had opportunities but neither found the winner — though Providence came close. Chase Bradley went to the box for tripping with five seconds left, which gave the Friars a face-off in the offensive zone. They won the draw and got the puck to Taige Harding on the back post. The sophomore appeared to have an opening but Sergeev appeared out of nowhere to deny him.

In the shootout, Providence scored on its third attempt but Salminen responded to keep UConn alive. In the sixth round, Percival scored five-hole to give the Huskies the shootout victory and the extra point.

Both games in the series will go down as a tie in each team’s record but UConn walks away with four of six points in the series thanks to the two shootout victories. The Huskies move to 9-1-3 on the season and 6-1-2 in Hockey East play.

Next, UConn will return to action with a home-and-home against the UMass Lowell Riverhawks. The first game of the series is set for Friday, Nov. 19 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.

UConn goals