By: Bryan Lambert, Campus Correspondent
After dropping a 1-0 contest against Brown last Saturday, UConn (3-7-4) traveled To UMass Lowell (8-3-3) Wednesday night, looking to hand the No.7 ranked Riverhawks their first conference loss of the season.
Averaging 3.64 goals per game, UMass Lowell’s usual high-powered offense was on full display, challenging the Huskies stingy defense all night. What was surprising was that UConn’s usual hair-wrenching inability to score goals was nowhere to be seen. UConn never held a lead but played perhaps their most complete game of the season as they fell 6-4 to their conference rivals.
UConn’s No. 21 nationally ranked penalty kill was tested early when Evan Richardson was called for interference. UMass Lowell’s Dylan Zink was able immediately find the back of net for the quick 1-0 lead.
Chris Forney beat goaltender Rob Nichols just past the ten minute mark but UConn Senior defensemen Jacob Poe’s slapshot navigated it’s way through traffic to make it 2-1. Poe’s goal broke a streak of 19 straight unsuccessful power play opportunities. The first period ended with UML holding a 13-7 shot advantage.
The first goal of the second period came from Riverhawk Michael Louria’s stick but Joona Kuunas took advantage of another power play and scored his first goal of the season to keep it a one-goal game. UMass Lowell answered right back when Ryan Collin was able to sneak the puck past Nichols off a rebound to extend the lead to 4-2 after two periods.
The deficit increased when Evan Campell took advantage of a UConn turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck past Nichols for the shorthanded goal at the 6:41 mark. Trailing 5-2 with time ticking away, the Huskies refused to quit. Richardson began the climb back when he was able to tap in Kuunas’ feed for his third goal of the season and second of the game.
Shawn Pauly fed Trevor Gerling cross-ice for the one timer with 3:07 left to play to pull the Huskies within one. Still trailing, Nichols was pulled with just a minute left but the Huskies couldn’t find the equalizer and the Riverhawks were able to take advantage of the empty net to secure the 6-4 victory.
Nichols, currently fourth in the nation in shots faced, contributed 27 saves in the losing effort.
Kuunas’ three points on the night set a new career high for the Junior Defenseman.
UConn has a long break before they return to action at the Frozen Holiday Classic Dec. 27 and 28 at Webster Bank Arena. The Huskies will drop the puck against defending national champion Union at 6:00 p.m. on the 27 of Dec.