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UConn men’s hockey’s season ends with 2-1 loss to UMass Lowell in Hockey East Quarterfinals

The Huskies out-shot the visitors 41-17 but their late comeback bid came up short.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn men’s hockey’s 2022-23 season came to an end on Saturday with a 2-1 loss to the UMass Lowell River Hawks in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Playoffs at Toscano Family Ice Forum.

The Huskies out-shot the visitors 41-17 — their fourth-most shots and second-widest shot differential of the season — but Lowell goalie Gustavs Davis Grigals stood on his head and stole the game. The River Hawks managed just five shots over the final two periods.

UMass Lowell scored the game’s first two goals in the opening period and UConn never recovered. The Huskies found the back of the net with 1:24 left after pulling the goalie for the extra skater but ran out of time in search of the second.

Arsenii Sergeev got the start in net for UConn but struggled by allowing two soft goals. He finished with 15 saves on the night.

Lowell struck first after forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, taking the puck up the boards and sending a cross-ice pass to Blake Wells, who tapped it in on the back post. Six minutes later, Sergeev fumbled a shot from outside the circles and couldn’t clear the rebound, which allowed Owen Cole to dive in and send the puck into the net to double the advantage.

UConn had its chances all game. Hr failed to capitalize. Nick Capone had a shot from point-blank turned away by Grigals’ toe, while Matthew Wood couldn’t break through on a few chances from inside the house.

The Huskies largely carried play in the second period — they owned a 13-4 edge in shots on goal — but couldn’t take advantage of their best looks. Too often, cross-ice passes in front of net were either sent wide or slid harmlessly to the boards. Tristan Fraser had a breakaway attempt turned away when he tried to go five-hole and UConn didn’t do anything with its first power play chance.

The third period was much of the same. The Huskies piled up the shots but couldn’t find the back of the net. The best chance came when Wood jumped on a rebound just outside the grease, but got turned away by a no-look glove save from Grigals.

UConn pulled Sergeev for the extra skater with just under three minutes left and finally broke through on a scrum in front of net. Grigals caught the puck in his breadbasket but without a whistle, the Huskies kept poking at his pads and it eventually slipped through him. Nick Capone saw the puck come out and shoveled it over the line to give UConn life with 1:24 left.

It wasn’t enough, though. The Huskies eventually ran out of time as their season came to a bitter end.

With UConn already eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention, it finishes with a 20-12-3 record — the first time the program has ever recorded back-to-back 20-win seasons. The Huskies will enter the offseason with the goal of pushing past a fourth place finishing, returning to the TD Garden and reaching the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament.