Men's Hockey: UConn routs UMass 8-2

Forward Jeff Wight (21) squares off with a UMass hockey player on Tuesday night during the Huskies 8-2 victory over the UMass Minuteman at the XL Center. Wight scored the Huskies third goal of the evening. 

UConn was sunk by a disastrous implosion during last Friday’s game at UMass. The Minutemen exploded for three goals in less than 60 seconds, lifting themselves to a 4-2 win over the Huskies.

Playing at home on Tuesday, UConn proved that revenge was a dish best served cold and with a side of irony. Instead of a 3-0 run over the span of a minute, the Huskies got a 7-0 run for 46 minutes. UMass tried three different goaltenders, but there was no solution to the Huskies’ greatest offensive performance in five years as UConn routed the Minutemen 8-2.

The game could have probably been stopped after the first period.

UMass peppered the UConn net with shots for the first half of the period but UConn’s defense held steady.

At the 9:26 mark, Jeff Wight cashed in a rebound off a Miles Gendron shot to put the Huskies up 1-0 and open the floodgates.

The power play continued to be friendly to Alexander Payusov when the puck found the sophomore off a rebound chance. Payusov easily tucked the puck past UMass goaltender Ryan Wishchow for his ninth goal of the year. Payusov has now scored six times with the main advantage, second in Hockey East despite missing nine games with an injury.

Payusov is usually camped in front of the net on the power play while the puck rotates up top. According to Cavanaugh, it is Payusov’s quick thinking in the crease that makes him so effective.

“He goes to the net and he has a good feel for where rebounds are going to go,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s got a quick stick.”

Wight scored again just 30 seconds later to ensure a 3-0 UConn lead after 20 minutes.

UMass swapped out Wishchow for Mathew Murray at the start of the second period, but a fresh pair of eyes in net couldn’t save UMass.

The Huskies once again put up three goals in the second period. Brian Rigali scored his first collegiate goal and Benjamin Freeman scored twice to give UConn a 6-0 lead after two periods.

Up 3-0, UConn probably could have let off the gas. They didn’t, getting rave reviews from their coach in the process.  

“I was very happy with the way we came out in the second period. That’s been a tough period for us lately,” Cavanaugh said. “The way we came out with the energy, and scoring on the first shift…really set the tone for the second period.

UMass’ third goaltender of the night didn’t fare any better than the previous two. Max Letunov squeaked a lose puck past Brad Arvantis to put UMass a touchdown and extra point behind just four minutes into the first period.

Brett Boeing scored his first career goal and UMass’ first goal of the night a little less than halfway through the third period. Spencer Naas quickly squashed the smallest signs of life from UMass when he lit the lamp just 33 seconds later.

Goaltender Adam Huska departed the ice with five minutes left to a shower of cheers and standing ovation. Cavanaugh used the opportunity to give freshman Bradley Stone his first look at live game-action between the pipes.

“He’s a great part of our team,” Cavanaugh said. “It was just kind of a reward for all his hard work this year. He’s earned that.”

Stone finished the game with one save and one goal allowed, a score by Austin Plevy with less than a minute remaining in the game.

UConn’s eight goals were the program’s highest total since 2013, a year before joining Hockey East.  With a game against No.12 Colgate on Friday and the winter break on the other side, an offensive performance like this couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Obviously we want to go into winter break picking up a couple W’s,” Wight said. “Hopefully we can finish strong on Friday.”


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.