Despite jumping out to a quick lead and controlling play through most of the game, the UConn men’s hockey team almost let Friday’s 3-1 victory slip away because of poor special teams play.
The Huskies did not find the back of the net in four power play attempts against UMass. On the flip side, UConn was able to hold the Minutemen to just one for six on the man-up advantage.
“It’s a pretty good night when you can get eleven shots on the power play,” UMass head coach Greg Carvel said. “I was happy with the power play, of course when you get six chances, you need to score on more than one…we had our opportunities. I thought special teams wise we did a good job.”
UConn seemed to be in steady control of the game until UMass was finally able to capitalize on a power play goal late in the third period to make the score 2-1. Had the Huskies not been able to hold on for the win, lots of people would certainly point to their four missed opportunities on the power play.
Huskies head coach Mike Cavanaugh noticed the lack of chances on the power play lead to a shift in momentum throughout the game.
“Special teams. Our power play didn’t bring a lot of momentum,” Cavanaugh said. “I think we had one chance on our power plays. We lost a little momentum there and UMass came hard and I credit them for it, we knew they would. But I am proud of the guys for holding on and finding a way to win the game.”
Massachusetts owns the second-to-worst power play in the league, and also sits in ninth out of twelfth place in the penalty kill.
Besides the struggles of UMass, a main reason UConn was able to weather the storm of six penalties and still come out with a win was freshman goaltender Adam Huska. The Slovakian native was named the second star of the game for his 24 saves.
The freshman has stepped in and made an immediate impact for the Huskies, now owning a record of 4-3-3. He currently owns the third-best save percentage in the Hockey East with .926.
“Hockey East play is really fast and the guys are older and smarter. Its just so much faster,” Huska said.
With the win, UConn improves to 6-6-6 overall and 4-3-2 in conference play. While Huska can keep this team in games, special teams will have to come around sooner than later if the Huskies want to make a second half push.