No. 8 UConn men’s hockey defeated the Maine Black Bears to earn a 3-2 victory and series sweep. The Huskies benefitted from timely plays on both ends of the ice and held on after Maine pulled the goalie to pull out the win.
Matthew Wood, Chase Bradley, and Justin Pearson all found the back of the net for UConn. Pearson’s goal came just 48 seconds after Maine tied the game at 2 with 5:12 remaining in regulation.
A major turning point came at the end of the first period and start of the second when the Huskies killed off a five-minute major penalty on Roman Kinal and then scored less than a minute after it expired.
In goal, Arsenii Sergeev had a stellar night, stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. He also made a handful of big stops on the major penalty kill.
The game followed a similar track to Friday night’s contest. UConn struggled to find offense early, Maine scored first and the Huskies didn’t start creating chances until late in the period. The Black Bears also got a golden chance on the power play. After a long 5-on-3 on Friday, they were handed a five-minute advantage after Kinal picked up a major boarding penalty and game misconduct which resulted in the captain being ejected.
The Huskies’ penalty kill rose to the occasion, though. They limited Maine’s opportunities and survived the major penalty without allowing a single goal. Once UConn returned to even strength, it used the momentum from the kill to tie the game. Wood won a puck battle along the boards and got it to Justin Pearson, who sent it straight back to the freshman. Wood skated to the face-off dots and sniped a shot past Maine goalie Victor Ostman to knot the score at 1-1.
The two sides battled back and forth for much of the second period but UConn got its second power play of the day with just 3:17 to go before intermission. Although the Huskies had been shut out on the advantage to that point in the weekend, they finally capitalized. As the final seconds ticked off the penalty, Bradley took it behind the goal line and banked a shot off Ostman’s helmet and in as the power play expired to give UConn its first lead of the day, 2-1.
The Huskies took that lead into the third period, but it didn’t last for the final 20 minutes. With under six minutes to go, UConn failed to clear the zone and the puck ended up in front of the net, where Lynden Breen jumped on it and scored to even the score at two goals apiece.
It didn’t stay tied long, though. 48 seconds later, Pearson got the puck in the corner, took it to the slot, and sniped it past Ostman to take back the lead and put the Huskies up 3-2 with 4:24 remaining. Maine gifted UConn a power play with 3:57 remaining and while the hosts didn’t score, they used the advantage to drain half the time left on the clock.
The Black Bears pulled their goalie with 1:43 left but the Huskies survived the 5-on-6 situation to secure the victory.
With the win, UConn improves to 9-1-1 on the season and 6-1-0 in Hockey East play. The Huskies managed just six league wins during their second campaign in Hockey East. They needed just seven contests to do it this year.
Next, UConn will play a home-and-home with Providence, starting on Friday night at Schneider Arena.