In a huge series going into the weekend, Northeastern has swept UConn hockey. After falling 3-1 in Boston on Friday night, UConn men’s hockey lost 5-2 on Saturday.
Northeastern scored two unanswered goals followed by an empty-netter in the third period after the officials overturned a goal that would’ve put UConn ahead 3-2. The goal came back because of a questionable goaltender interference call.
UConn dominated long stretches of the game and out-shot the visitors 42-27 — the Huskies totaled 103 shots on the weekend — but came away with zero points on the weekend.
“It’s a disappointing weekend,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I thought we played well enough to win two games and we wind up losing two games... In the end, it’s a results-driven business and they wound up with a win tonight and we wound up with the loss.”
UConn led 2-1 at the start of the third period and had roughly 30 seconds left on a 5-on-3 penalty and a 1:47 advantage overall. However, it couldn’t capitalize and a few minutes later, Northeastern tied the game on a snipe from Jack Hughes at the point.
Less than 20 seconds later, UConn appeared to answer. On the power play, Carter Turnbull stole the puck on the goal line, skated across the face of the goal, and sent it past Northeastern goalie Devon Levi to put UConn up 3-2.
Or so we thought.
Turnbull’s leg made contact with Levi’s head, though the net-minder appeared to initiate the contact by diving into Turnbull, who was making an attempt to shoot.
Northeastern challenged the play for goaltender interference and after a long review, the goal was waived off.
“[The official] said that our guy (Carter Turnbull) went through the crease and interfered with the goalie,” Cavanaugh said. “I mean, I can’t control what the referee does or says. That was his explanation of it.”
Even though UConn still had most of a power play remaining, it couldn’t capitalize. In fact, the Huskies became visibly frustrated as the game went on and Northeastern took advantage.
Aidan McDonough got behind the defense and slipped the puck inside the post past UConn goaltender Darion Hanson to give the visitors a 3-2 lead. Three minutes later, they added another when Ty Jackson buried a rebound into an open net.
Just like that, UConn trailed 4-2 after thinking it led 3-2.
“We’ve got to be mentally tougher,” Cavanaugh said. “You gotta be able to handle it and I didn’t think we handled it well as a team. It’s a good lesson for us to learn.”
103 shots, zero points
In both games this weekend, UConn outplayed Northeastern. On Friday night, UConn put 61 shots on goal but only managed to score once — in the waning moments of the contest after the hosts took a 3-0 lead.
The next day, UConn fired 41 shots on goal but actually had some success against Levi, who came into the weekend with the second-best save percentage and third-best goals against average in the nation.
UConn owned the first 10 minutes and created numerous grade-A chances, only to be denied by Levi. At one occasion, Jonny Evans appeared to deke past the net-minder only for Levi to somehow recover and make a toe-save to keep the game scoreless.
The breakthrough came in the final seconds of the opening period on UConn’s first power play. The Huskies controlled the puck but didn’t threaten the goal much until Evans ripped a shot from the top of the face-off circle that bounced off Levi and found Jake Flynn, who finished the rebound with 12.1 seconds left. UConn went into the first intermission up 1-0.
1:33 into the second period, Jachym Kondelik’s initial attempt went off the post but the puck bounced off Levi’s back and dropped into the crease. Kondelik followed his own shot and tapped it in to make it a 2-0 lead for UConn.
“I thought we did a much better job of having traffic and being able to get pucks down to the net tonight,” Cavanaugh said. “There were probably a lot more quality chances tonight than there were last night.”
From there, UConn’s offense went silent, failing to score over the next 38:27 — at least on the official scoresheet — while Northeastern put four goals up.
UConn will finish the regular season with two games at home against Vermont next weekend on Friday and Saturday.