Men’s Hockey: UConn drops game one in Hockey East playoffs

Northeastern's Dylan Sakura (#9), Sam Kurker (#10), and Adam Gaudette (#8) celebrate a goal in UConn's regular season meeting with Northeastern. UConn forward Kasperi Ojantakanen (#23) looks on from the crease as goalie Adam Huska's (#30) diving effort wasn't enough. (Mustafe Mussa/The Daily Campus)

In a tight contest, the UConn men’s hockey team rallied late but dropped game one of the Hockey East playoffs, 3-1, to the Northeastern Huskies at Matthews Arena, in Boston, Massachusetts.

UConn seemed to dominate early in the period but could never find the back of the net. The (other) Huskies got on the board early. Northeastern’s Garret Cockerill launched his seventh of the season on the powerplay with 10:36 gone in the first period after Spencer Naas got charged with a slashing call. UConn killed off most of the penalty but Cockerill beat UConn netminder Adam Huska with two seconds left on the man advantage.

Northeastern built their lead in the second period off Charlestown, MA, native  Brendan Collier, assisted on the goal by Matt Filipe and Ryan Shea.

UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh liked his team’s fight through the first two frames.

“I thought we played a pretty good hockey game.  Sixty minutes.  WE came out and played really hard, had a great first period, out shoot them 11-6 but are down 1-0 on that power play goal,” Cavanaugh said. “Even the second period, I thought we had some great chances.  I liked our fight.”

UConn cut the lead in half with 1:21 left to play in the third period as freshman Benjamin Freeman stuffed home a rebound just as the Huskies’ power play expired. In a 2-1 game, UConn pulled their goalie with a minute to play in the third, but Northeastern’s John Stevens put it away just 16 seconds after the Huskies pulled Huska.

UConn continued to fight. Sophomore Tage Thompson was able to put in a goal with 21 seconds left on the clock, but after a review the goal was waved off for an offside.  Northeastern held on from there for the 3-1 win.

“That’s a pretty good hockey team over there and we just didn’t find a way to get the puck to the back of the net,” Cavanaugh said. “You know, special teams that was probably the story here.  We are 0-for-4 and they are 1-for-3 and that was probably the difference in the game.”

Special teams seemed to be the factor Friday night. UConn was 0-for-4 on the power play on the night, Northeastern finished 1-for-3 on the man advantage.  

UConn held a 31-29 edge in terms of shots. Huska made 26 saves in a losing effort for UConn, while Northeastern’s Ryan Ruck stopped 30 shots for the win.

The two teams will be right back at it tomorrow night at Matthews Arena with a 7 p.m. puck drop. If UConn loses, it'll be the end of the season. With a UConn win, there will be a winner-take-all game Sunday night in Boston.


Connor Donahue is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering men’s ice hockey. He can be reached via email at connor.f.donahue@uconn.edu. He tweets @conn_donahue.