Men’s Hockey: Letunov ejected, Huskies lose to No. 4 Quinnipiac

UConn defeated Alabama Huntsville in the season home opener 4-0 on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2016 at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies swept Alabama 10-0 with a combined score for the weekend. The Huskies fell to the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-2. (Ruohan Li/ The Daily Campus)  

UConn defeated Alabama Huntsville in the season home opener 4-0 on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2016 at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies swept Alabama 10-0 with a combined score for the weekend. The Huskies fell to the Quinnipiac Bobcats 5-2. (Ruohan Li/ The Daily Campus)
 

In Wednesday’s only NCAA Division I game, UConn traveled to play in-state opponent Quinnipiac and lost 5-2. The Bobcats are ranked fourth in this week’s USCHO poll, coming into the matchup with a 3-1-1 record.

After a pre-game tribute honoring former UConn coach Bruce Marshall, the Huskies (2-1-2) got off to a slow start. Quinnipiac scored twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. The Bobcats (4-1-1) scored eight minutes into the game when junior forward Andrew Taverner fired a wrist shot past UConn goalie Adam Huska.

Just 22 seconds later, the Huskies’ star sophomore Maxim Letunov was given a five minute major for boarding and was ejected from the game. UConn would kill the penalty, but lost one of their best offensive threats for the game.

Quinnipiac would score again with under 30 seconds left in the period. The Bobcats dominated the first period in terms of shots, getting 19 on net compared to eight for UConn.

Shortly into the second period, the Huskies would get one back, as alternate captain Spencer Naas jammed in a loose puck for a power play goal. It was Naas’ third goal on the season, and it cut the Huskies’ deficit in half.

After the Bobcats answered with a goal of their own, UConn would once again pull to within one. Sophomore forward Karl El-Mir scored his second goal of the season on a rebound halfway through the period.

Quinnipiac would again quickly answer, proving how strong of a team they are. Brogan Rafferty beat Huska on a breakaway to make the score 4-2. A minute after that, Connor Clifton scored on a power play to make the score 5-2 and give the Bobcates some breathing room. That score would hold for the rest of the period, as well as the entirety of the third period.

Huska, a freshman making his second collegiate start, was tested heavily by a top team in the country, facing 43 shots. The Huskies earned 21 penalty minutes on the night, holding the Bobcats to only one power play goal.

On the offensive end, UConn had 31 shots in the game, and went 1-3 on the power play. The Huskies won 38 faceoffs to Quinnipiac’s 25.

The Huskies will come back to the XL Center for a game on Friday against American International, looking to avenge their first loss of the season.


Josh Buser is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joshua.buser@uconn.edu.