It was a different story for UConn men’s hockey (9-16-2) Saturday night. Fresh off a loss to Providence in Hartford on Thursday, the Huskies traveled to Providence with revenge on their minds. The score was 3-1, just as it was Thursday, but this time UConn came out on top, picking up a much needed Hockey East win.
“It was a good win for our team. I thought that we played a strong game Thursday night at home, I thought that was the first time all year that we had played inspired hockey and I challenged the kids, ‘can you do it again?’” said Husky head coach Mike Cavanaugh.
Tanner Creel was in the net yet again for the Huskies as the team awaits Adam Huska’s recovery. The senior earned himself 26 saves Saturday night and his first win of the season.
“Tanner Creel, he almost left last year, he’s a fifth year, and I was really happy he came back,” Cavanaugh said.
Penalties were the story of this game as there were 11 combined power plays and 17 penalties overall. UConn scored on two of their four man-up advantages, while their special teams managed to kill off seven Providence power plays. Four penalties (two UConn, two PC) were assessed a 16:59 in the third period, offsetting each other. An additional two were assessed to PC at the conclusion of the game for misconduct.
“Our special teams, we killed all seven and went 2-for-4 on the power plays so that was a big thing,” Cavanaugh explained.
The first period started off poorly for the Huskies as Miles Gendron was assessed an interference penalty just fourteen seconds into the game, but UConn successfully defended the power play. At 7:12, Providence’s Jason O’Neill was assessed a tripping penalty. UConn failed to score during the two minute advantage, but PC earned another tripping penalty less than twenty seconds after regaining their player. Johnny Austin scored a power play goal at 10:44, with assists from Spencer Naas and Max Kalter. Gendron was given another interference penalty at 17:32, but UConn killed it off yet again, carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period. The Huskies outshot Providence 12-8 in the first.
“I was really proud of the effort right from the get-go,” Cavanaugh said. “I thought we had an excellent first period.”
The Friars came out firing in the second period. They ultimately outshot UConn as whopping 14-4. Zac Robbins was assessed UConn’s third penalty of the night at 3:48 for boarding, but Providence failed to convert. At 6:28, PC was handed a penalty for hitting after the whistle. Joseph Masonius scored the power play goal just over eight minutes into the period, a wrist shot past Providence goalie Hayden Hawkey. He was assisted by Karl El-Mir and Alexander Payusov.
Kalter was taken off the ice for hooking at 8:41 but nothing came of the power play. PC got their only goal of the night in the fifteenth minute off the stick of Brian Pinho. Masonius was assessed a penalty at the time of the goal for interference. Two more penalties were handed out during the period but neither team converted. UConn maintained a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
Masonius led off the third period with the final power play opportunity of the game after being handed a penalty for hitting from behind just over a minute into play. At 16:59, a big scuffle on the ice resulted in two roughing penalties, a goaltender interference penalty, and a tripping penalty. All were offset. Providence emptied their net with about a minute and a half left in the game and Letunov was able to score the final goal of the game at 19:07 with an assist from Derek Pratt. UConn took a Hockey East win over Providence by a score of 3-1.
“I was really proud of the way, in the third period, we stayed with them,” Cavanaugh said. “We didn’t sit back, we outshot them 6-5. I really thought we played a strong third period.”
At the conclusion of the game, PC’s Brandon Duhaime was assessed two penalties for cross-checking to the head and game misconduct.
UConn men’s hockey returns to action next Friday against another Hockey East foe, the University of New Hampshire.
Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.