Men's Hockey: Friendship Four not so friendly for Huskies

UConn senior forward Karl El-Mir controls the puck during UConn Men’s Hockey game against Brown on Nov. 13, 2018. (Eric Wang/ The Daily Campus)

Thanksgiving Break did not go as planned for the UConn men’s hockey team. While the majority of students fled campus to spend the holiday break with their families, the Huskies took flight across the Atlantic to play in the Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four in Ireland. UConn suffered two losses at The SSE Arena, one to Boston University and the other to in-state rival Yale.

Friday’s matchup with BU came down to the wire and saw freshman Jachym Kondelik score his first collegiate goal.

Karl El-Mir put the Huskies on the board first in the Hockey East duel. The senior capitalized on the early power play chance when he sent back a rebounded Alexander Payusov goal at 5:20 in the period.

The lead would not last long after back-to-back penalties granted the Terriers a four-minute one-man advantage. Adam Huska stopped six pucks after watching Kondelik and junior Ben Freeman take turns in the box before BU’s Patrick Curry buried a rebounded puck to even the score with just 40 seconds left on the power play. Huska would finish with 27 saves in the loss.

Just two minutes before the first intermission, Kondelik redirected a Phil Nyberg slap shot to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead. The goal marked the freshman’s 12th point of the season.

The second period was fairly quiet but BU was able to tie things up at 8:55. Huska defended a wrap-around goal attempt from the Terriers but sophomore Logan Crockell was there to send the puck right back on net for the tying score.

BU took the lead for the first time and for good early in the third period. Ty Amonte found himself with the puck and lifted a shot over Huska for the 3-2 lead. The Terriers’ defense took care of the rest.

BU landed in some penalty trouble, granting the Huskies a 5-on-3 power play for just over a minute of game time but did not flinch. UConn pulled Huska in favor of the extra skater with 1:39 remaining but could only muster up a single shot on goal. Goaltender Jake Oettinger made 39 saves en route to the victory.

Although the two schools are only an hour drive away, UConn and Yale flew to Ireland to face each other for the first time this season. The Huskies will have to wait until their New Year’s Eve meeting for a chance for a win, however.

UConn couldn’t take advantage of three Yale penalties in the first but still ended the period with the lead after senior captain Miles Gendron found the back of the net for the first time this season with two minutes left in the period. Fresh off a 5-on-3 advantage, Gendron beat two defensemen to corral a Carter Turnbull missed shot for a score.

The Huskies’ fortune quickly changed when Yale scored just 16 seconds into the second period when Luke Stevens evened the score right off the opening face-off.

The Bulldogs would take the lead not even five minutes later when Dante Palecco sent back a Brett Jewell miss to beat goaltender Tomas Vomacka.

Just after Yale took the lead, Joe Snively was sent to the box for a five-minute cross checking penalty along with UConn’s Adam Karashik for a two-minute interference. The Huskies went on the power play for three minutes and tied things up after Gendron fed Payusov for his ninth goal on the year.

The Bulldogs would take the lead before the two sides made their way to the locker rooms. Kevin O’Neil went top shelf on Vomacka for his first of two scores in the game.

O’Neil extended Yale’s lead very early in the third period. The sophomore scooped up a UConn turnover and put it in the net for his third score of the year to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead.

Yale’s Sam Tucker couldn’t cover up missed shot from Ruslan Iskhakov before Max Kalter tapped in his fourth score of the year to bring UConn within one at 8:01. Tucker would finish the game with 34 saves and the win.

Yale would extend their lead at 13:43 and 15:26 with goals from Snively and Curtis Hall, respectively, making the final score 6-3.

Vomacka took the loss but finished with a single-game best 31 saves.

UConn’s woes continue as they now sits at 5-8-1 overall and 2-6-1 in the conference after the road trip and have dropped four straight contests.

Things will not get any easier for the Huskies as they are set to faceoff with the nationally ranked UMass Minutemen on Friday in Massachusetts.


Kevin Arnold is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.arnold@uconn.edu.