The UConn men’s hockey season ended in heartbreaking fashion as the UMass Minutemen defeated the Huskies in overtime of the Hockey East championship game, 2-1. UMass defenseman Aaron Bohlinger wristed a shot from the point 3:06 into the extra period to score the game-winning goal.
UConn scored first on Vladislav Firstov’s third goal of the playoffs but UMass tied the game on a breakaway from Bobby Trivigno later in the second period. The two teams couldn’t break the deadlock in an uneventful third period, which sent the game into overtime.
The Minutemen outshot the Huskies 33-20 while both teams just had a single power play on the night. Defenseman John Spetz and Firstov were named to the Hockey East All-Tournament team.
For the second straight game against UMass, UConn generated just three shots on target in the first period. The Minutemen had the better opening 20 minutes, but didn’t dominate by any means. The Huskies had some chances. Chase Bradley had a good look on the rush but sent his shot wide of net. Jachym Kondelik couldn’t capitalize on a 2v1, and Jake Flynn was denied at the doorstep by goaltender Matt Murray.
There were stretches where UMass controlled play and kept UConn locked in its defensive zone — including a power-play where the Huskies didn’t get clear the puck until the final 10 seconds — but went into the first intermission scoreless.
UConn’s offense finally woke up in the second period. The Huskies put three shots on goal in the first 90 seconds and one minute later Firstov scored the first goal for the third consecutive game. Spetz fired in a shot from the top of the face-off circle and Firstov re-directed it between his legs to get it by Murray.
The Minutemen owned the next few minutes and created multiple chances around the net. But Darion Hanson continually turned away shots from every direction and every level.
With four minutes left in the second, the puck slipped out of UConn’s offensive zone and found a wide-open Bobby Trivigno. The 2022 Hockey East Player of the Year had a clear path to net and beat Hanson five-hole to tie the game at 1-1.
In the third period, the Huskies managed just two shots on goal, though the Minutemen didn’t do much more with seven. UMass nearly caught UConn a bad change in the final 10 seconds of regulation but the Huskies recovered and forced overtime.
In the extra period, the two teams went up and down the ice before the Minutemen notched the winner. Trivigno won a puck battle in the corner and sent the puck to Bohlinger, who fired a shot through traffic to earn UMass the championship.
A victory would have sent the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament. With the loss, the Huskies’ 2021-22 campaign comes to an unfortunate end. On the plus side, Mike Cavanaugh and the program earned their first postseason wins as members of Hockey East, and the future remains bright.