Men's Hockey Notebook: Three stars spur UConn's win against Brown

Steve Thulin makes a save against Brown during Tuesday's victory at the XL Center. (Jackson Haigis/The Daily Campus)

Thompson impresses in front of scouts

Tage Thompson put on a show at the XL Center, dishing out a pair of assists in UConn’s 3-1 win over Brown on Tuesday night. Thompson provided the lone assist on Spencer Naas’s first period opener, and helped seal the win by finding a wide-open Max Letunov in front of an empty net.

With his two assists tonight, Thompson was named the game’s third star. He is up to 14 assists for the year, second only to Letunov’s 16 for the team lead.

And with a number of NHL scouts in attendance, Thompson’s performance was certainly a highlight.

“I thought he played really well,” said UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh. “He was just strong on the puck, and that’s what he’s going to be. He’s going to be a power forward. But he’s just scratching the surface as a player. If I’m a scout from the stands tonight, I think I’m pretty happy with Tage’s performance.”

Cavanaugh also noted that Tuesday’s win showcased just how far Thompson’s game has come over the course of the season. His assist to Naas resulted from a nice steal, a series of great individual moves, and the vision to pick out a streaking teammate for the goal.

“I think he’s improved immensely. He’s really put the work in in the weight room, and he’s been coachable,” said Cavanaugh. “I thought he overhandled the puck early in the season. I thought he’s getting a lot better moving pucks.”

Thompson, who just turned 18 last October, was ineligible for last year’s NHL Entry Draft. But if he keeps improving and turning in strong performances on the ice, expect to hear his name called early when the 2016 draft rolls around.

Richter nets first career goal

Marco Richter proved to be the hero on Tuesday, scoring the game-winning goal with just 1:38 remaining to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead. It was Richter’s first career goal, and it could not have come at a better time.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Richter. “With the win too, the team played great, Steve had a very good game, so it’s a great feeling.”

Richter, who earned the game’s second star, brought the puck up the right wing. It looked like he had lost the puck, but managed to recover. Facing a tight angle, he threw it on net, and the puck bounced in for the game-winner.

“I was just trying to get the puck deep somehow because it was late in the game,” said Richter. “I was just trying to get it to the net, honestly, just trying to get it in somehow.”

Thulin delivers in second career start

Making just his second start of the season, sophomore goaltender Steve Thulin stepped up in a big way on Tuesday night. With starting goaltender Rob Nichols still sidelined with an ankle injury, Thulin stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced en route to his first career victory.

The big game also happened to come on the night of his 23rd birthday.

“It was a great opportunity, and I’m glad the team played a full 60 minutes,” Thulin said. “The effort was definitely there tonight.”

Thulin, the game’s first star, hadn’t played since the Huskies’ second game of the season, a 5-2 loss to Alabama-Huntsville. His patience paid off. Though he looked nervous in the first few minutes, he worked his way into the game and looked more comfortable with each save.

“[The nerves] wore off after the first couple minutes,” said Thulin.

Nichols’ status is still up in the air for Saturday’s game, when UConn returns to Hockey East action against Merrimack, so Cavanaugh may need to call on Thulin again. If he does, Thulin will be ready.

“Tanner [Creel] and I have both been putting in the extra work, and it’s definitely paying off,” he said. “It’s very rewarding.”


Pete Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at peter.harasyko@uconn.edu.