Friday’s second period success
Friday’s 5-1 UConn win was decided in the second period. The Huskies carried a 1-0 into the period after junior forward Max Kalter opened the scoring in the first.
The Catamounts were able to capitalize on a power play at the start of the period and leveled the game two minutes in. But the Huskies responded eight seconds later as sophomore Justin Howell restored the team’s lead.
“We always talk about those first shifts after a goal,” said senior Spencer Naas. “We were able to respond quickly and get the momentum back.”
UConn would turn this momentum into two more goals as seniors Jeff Wight and Naas would get on the score sheet, effectively sealing the win.
“We had a lot of momentum,” said head coach Mike Cavanaugh. “It was not only the goals, the puck possession in that period allowed us to get a lot of pucks down by the net. It was something our team needed.”
Friday’s second period was the second time the team has scored three in a period this season. The Huskies also completed the feat against AIC.
Saturday’s second period woes
Saturday’s game initially looked like more of the same. The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 advantage on goals from Miles Gendron and Maxim Letunov. UVM’s Craig Puffer was then called for a five minute major and game misconduct penalty less than two minutes into the second period. With a five minute penalty looming and a two goal lead, the Huskies looked in firm control.
Then everything fell apart. On Friday, it was the second period in which the Huskies dominated. On Saturday, the second period was a nightmare.
UConn not only failed to add to their lead during that five minute major, but they allowed the Catamounts to cut into it. Halfway through the power play, a hooking penalty was called on Joseph Masonius on a Vermont shorthanded breakaway. This gave the Catamounts a penalty shot, and UVM’s Ross Colton did not waste it, trimming the lead to 2-1.
At this point, UConn still had the lead, but the entire building felt a complete momentum shift in favor of Vermont.
“We had everything going in the right direction,” Cavanaugh said. “We lost a lot of momentum on that five minute major.”
“Up two-nothing, have a five-minute major in our favor, you’d like to capitalize on that,” echoed captain Derek Pratt. “Disappointing for sure. Obviously we were still up, but they definitely took momentum there.”
The Catamounts added two more goals in the period, one on a power play, and never looked back. By the end of the game, Vermont had scored four answered goals.
Power play struggles continue
The Huskies’ inconsistent power play attack continued on Saturday. UConn had four power plays, including a five minute major, and were unable to turn any into goals.
“I thought the story of the game was special teams,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re 0-4 and one of them is a five minute major, while they score a shorthanded goal and a power play goal. That was the difference in the game.”
The Huskies didn’t just fail to score, the power play attack was simply missing any potency. They frequently got too cute trying to thread the perfect pass and too easily turned over the puck, one of which led to a shorthanded breakaway for UVM that resulted in a penalty shot goal.
Cavanaugh said after the game he believes the issue is not moving the puck quickly enough, and wants the team to pick up the pace on power play puck movement. Pratt and Letunov both repeated similar needs to simplify things on the power play.
“We got to do a better job on the power play,” Letunov said. “Especially not let them score, but we have to create our own momentum. We should’ve put more pucks on net instead of just trying to make the perfect play.”