UConn men’s hockey took down the top-seeded Northeastern Huskies 4-1 in the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden to advance to the championship game on Saturday. They’ll play in the tournament final on Saturday at 7 p.m. EST against UMass.
Mike Cavanaugh’s squad scored first off the stick of Vladislav Firstov and although Northeastern tied it shortly afterward, the Storrs Huskies responded with three unanswered goals from Roman Kinal, Ryan Tverberg, and Marc Gatcomb (empty-netter) to earn the victory.
Goaltender Darion Hanson was spectacular for the Huskies once again, stopping 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
UConn looked nervous at the start and struggled to generate offense in the opening minutes. But it held strong on the defensive end and didn’t allow Northeastern many chances. UConn got the first power play of the game didn’t convert with the extra skater, but it did help the team settle in.
Shortly after the game returned to even strength, Firstov gave UConn a 1-0 lead for the second straight game. Chase Bradley brought the puck along the boards and passed it to Nick Capone, who knocked it to the front of the net. Firstov stopped the puck with his skate then sent it past Levi to break the scoreless tie.
Less than three minutes later, the Huskies from Boston went on the power play after a slashing penalty from Carter Turnbull and Aidan McDonough fired home a one-timer from the back post to tie the game, 1-1.
UConn continued to struggle with penalties as Ryan Tverberg went to the box at the end of the first period and Vladislav Firstov visited midway through the second. UConn got some shorthanded chances but was not able to help its cause.
The Storrs Huskies got their second power play of the night after a hold by Julian Kislin and while UConn didn’t convert with the extra skater, it found the back of the net just 34 seconds after the penalty expired.
Bradley beat Levin with an initial shot from the edge of the face-off circle but the puck hit the post and went out. Kinal crashed the net and buried the rebound to put UConn ahead, 2-1.
UConn took that lead into the third period and with 15 minutes to go, Tverberg added to it with the best goal of the season. He stole a break-out pass at the top of the face-off circle, took it to net, and made an incredible move across the face of goal that sent Levi sprawling to the ice. Tverberg skated around the net-minder and slipped it around the post to extend UConn’s advantage to 3-1.
UConn killed off a penalty from Capone in the third period and kept Northeastern away from Hanson in goal. Levi went to the bench with 2:54 to go to give Northeastern the extra skater but Gatcomb’s empty-netter sealed the victory with 2:08 remaining. UConn out-shot Northeastern 37-25 on the night.
Up next, UConn will have a chance to win its first Hockey East championship and also earn an automatic bid to its first NCAA Tournament on Saturday.