UConn men’s hockey (10-16-2) took on the University of New Hampshire this weekend in a home-and-home Hockey East matchup. Game one was Friday night in Durham where the Huskies pulled out a come-from-behind victory against the Wildcats, winning 4-2 with three goals scored in the final four minutes. Both teams moved to Hartford on Saturday for an afternoon matchup. In an incredibly physical game, UConn managed to pull out a 3-2 victory.
Game one saw Zac Robbins score his first collegiate goal at 9:42 in the first period, leading the Huskies into the second period with a 1-0 advantage. Max Kalter and David Drake got assists on the goal.
UNH scored both of their goals in the second. Charlie Kelleher was credited with a goal at 11:02 after a rebound off UConn goalie Tanner Creel. The Wildcats got another one with just 25 seconds left in the period, giving them a 2-1 lead after two periods.
“After two periods we didn’t deserve to win that game,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “There was a reason we were down 2-1. We had a couple chances here and there but we didn’t sustain anything.”
It was not until there were three minutes and 17 seconds left in the game that Adam Karashik fed the puck to Jesse Schwartz who got it to the back of the net to tie the game. Spencer Naas scored the game-winner with 1:25 left, lifting one to the top of the net past UNH goalie Danny Tirone. Finally, for assurance, the Huskies pulled off an empty net goal with 31 seconds to go. An elbowing penalty on Karashik gave UNH the opportunity to pull their goalie and play 6-on-4 hockey, but the plan fell apart after the UConn defense got the puck to the neutral zone. Corey Ronan got to it and slid in easily into the empty net.
“We’re certainly very pleased with the win. In the third period we were down 2-1 and our d[defense] got a little more active and we won some battles. I really liked the mentality that our team had after we tied the game up.”
Game two shifted to the XL Center and saw the Huskies never trailing the Wildcats. Despite an incredible amount of penalties sustained by both teams, only one of the combined five goals were scored on a power play.
The first period had a whopping eight penalties; three were charged to UConn for a combination of hooking and interference; five were charged to UNH including a five minute major in the last seconds of the period for a post-goal crosscheck. The Huskies were on the board first after Karashik got one through at 11:42. Nass and Alexander Payusov were both credited with the assist. At 19:43, UNH pulled even with a last-minute goal off the stick of Marcus Vela to tie the game heading into the second period.
Five penalties were charged in the second. At 14:42, each team received citation for hitting after the whistle, removing the power play opportunity. UConn scored the only goal of the period, a power play goal at 2:35 knocked in by Wyatt Newpower. Benjamin Freeman and Miles Gendron would get the assists on this one, a rebound from Freeman’s blocked shot. UNH only pulled three shots out of the period, substantially outmatched by UConn’s 17.
A more focused UNH took the ice for the third period. Only one penalty was assessed to the Wildcats in the period and it came after the final whistle. They dominated UConn in shots an impressive 16-4. The tying goal came at 3:24 after Kelleher managed to convert his second goal of the series. The game winner for the Huskies came, yet again, from Karashik. A slapshot from just inside the line found its way past a swarm of players and into the back of the net. Schwartz and Kasperi Ojantakanen received the assist credit.
The final score was 3-2 UConn, completing their first sweep of the season and earning four conference points.
“I’m very pleased with the weekend,” Cavanaugh said. “I thought we had a pretty good first period, I thought our second period was excellent. In the third period they made a big push, and Tanner [Creel] made some big saves and Adam [Karashik] had some good plays, I was very happy that we were able to come away with it.”
UConn is back at it next Friday at the XL Center to play Hockey East opponent BC before heading to Rhode Island to take on Brown Saturday night.
Rachel Schaefer is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.