Shorthanded Huskies fall 3-1 to No. 10 Providence

The Huskies hype themselves up before their devastating loss to the Friars at the XL Center in Hartford on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Huskies were unable to break a four game losing streak Thursday, falling 3-1 to the No.10 ranked Providence Friars. The Friars outshot the Huskies 30-24 as they took the first game of a home and home series.

All About How You Start

The Friars asserted their dominance early. Josh Wilkins opened up the scoring after collecting a picture pass from Kasper Bjorkqvist in the slot and wristing a shot home.

Just a minute and 20 seconds later, Providence defenseman Tommy Davis was in the right place at the right time. Davis was able to convert on a rebound chance to give the Friar’s a 2-0 lead in just under five minutes of play.

Providence put a cap on their stellar first period in the closing minutes. Shane Kavanaugh carried the puck in deep with a UConn defender shadowing him the entire way. The sophomore forward was somehow able to force the puck on net as he was taken down to the ice in a whirlwind of sticks, ice and one loose glove. Vimal Sukumaran was able to get just enough of his stick on net to guide the puck home for the 3-0 lead.

Sparks of Offense

Despite only managing one goal, Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh believes his team’s performance Thursday was a nice rebound from their 16-shot performance against Merrimack last week.

“I think we worked harder,” Cavanaugh said. “I thought at Merrimack we were standing still when we dumped pucks, or chipped pucks or entered the zone.”

Senior forward Spencer Naas believes the team’s performance Thursday was a sign that the team is still capable of competing with the nation’s elite.

“We know that we have a good team in there, we won five of six going into the break,” Naas said. “I think we know that if we play the right way we can beat all these teams.”

No Replacing Huska

The Huskies were without their world-class backstop Thursday night. Sophomore goaltender Adam Huska was put on the shelf after spraining his wrist Monday.

Tanner Creel took over in net for Huska for his first start of the season. Despite Thursday being his first start, Creel had already clocked nearly 80 minutes in goal before this game. In those near 80 minutes, Creel had already let up nine goals.

Cavanaugh said he was nervous after Creel’s shaky first period but was proud of his goaltender for competing the entire game.

“He showed a lot of mental toughness. Just to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t going to be like those other games,’” Cavanaugh said.

According to Cavanaugh, Huska will likely be out for the next couple weeks and is certainly out for Saturday’s rematch with the Friars.

Creel believes that starting his first two games of the season against the same team is only a positive

“To get a chance to play them again, in their barn, in a hostile situation, is the best situation,” Creel said. “I would say because it forces you to be better. It forces you to be mentally tough.”

Injury Bug Season

Huska wasn’t the only Husky in street clothes. Both Kasperi Ojantakanen and Adam Karashik were also nursing injuries and unable to dress.

According to Cavanaugh, Karashik is close to coming back, but the team still doesn’t know how long Ojantakanen will be shelved.

The Huskies will get their second chance this Saturday at 7:00 p.m., when they run it back with the Friars in Providence.


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