The UConn men’s hockey team ended 2018 on a high note. Just hours before the ball dropped and 2019 arrived, the Huskies pulled out a 3-1 victory over Yale, bringing an end to their seven-game losing streak and giving the program its first win over the Bulldogs.
The first period in this one was mostly uneventful. Although Yale held an 11-8 shot advantage in the period, the in-state rivals combined to go 0-3 on the power play. The Bulldogs came close when a 2-on-1 led to a Ted Harris shot that rang off the post. Meanwhile, the Huskies penalty kill notched a shorthanded breakaway, but Sam Tucker made a nice pad save on the Max Kalter shot.
The Huskies seemed to get off to a slow offensive start in the second period after not recording a shot until almost the seven-minute mark. The first shot was all the they needed to get things rolling however, as Alexander Payusov scored at 7:17, the team’s second shot of the period. Payusov took an Adam Karashik pass through the neutral zone and raced the Yale defense to the slot where he beat Tucker with his backhand for his team-leading 10th goal of the season, giving UConn a 1-0 lead.
Just as UConn was ready to take a 1-0 lead into the locker room for the second intermission, Yale had other plans. The Bulldogs’ Anthony Walsh picked up the puck in front of the net and fired off a shot past Adam Huska as the horn went off. Although the clock showed all zeros, an official review declared the goal was scored with 0.5 seconds remaining, crediting Walsh with his second goal of the season.
Alternate captain Ben Freeman scored what would eventually be the game winner at the 9:52 mark in the third period. The junior took the feed from Karl El-Mir and used his backhand right in front of the net to score his third goal of the season.
Desperate to tie the game up, Yale pulled Tucker following a timeout with 1:58 to play. The extra skater was not enough as Kale Howarth broke the puck free, allowing Brian Rigali to beat the defense back and tap in the empty-net goal to secure a 3-1 win for the Huskies.
Huska turned away 39 shots en route to the victory and helped UConn improve to 6-11-1 overall while Yale fell to 7-4-2 following the home loss.
UConn will next take the ice Friday night in Las Vegas. The Huskies will face Western Michigan in the opening round of the Ice Vegas Invitational with puck-drop scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Air Force and Saint Lawrence will also be participating.
Kevin Arnold is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.