BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The wheels of the Ice Bus came flying off at the Barclays Center this Sunday. Notre Dame could do no wrong as it lit the lamp eight times during the 8-2 victory. It was a game full of frustration, one very unfortunate own-goal and hopefully, a couple learning experiences.
Blowout at the Barclays
Notre Dame’s eight goals were the most UConn had given up in a game since a February loss to Northeastern last season.
“We got dismantled today,’ head coach Mike Cavanaugh said.
The Huskies started the game looking determined to amend yesterday’s loss and won the first few shifts of the game but fell apart after the Fighting Irish notched their first goal.
“The first three or four shifts we did exactly what we wanted to do and put some pressure on them,” Cavanaugh said. “We didn’t respond well and I think it was a young team playing against a very structured, older group of kids that outplayed us today.”
Cavanaugh did not think the game’s location was a significant factor in the loss.
“We played at the Prudential Center last year and played very well so I don’t think it was the arena that had anything to do with it.” Cavanaugh said. “Just our team did not play well today.”
Changing the lines
After yesterday’s disappointing loss to Notre Dame, the Huskies came into the Barclays Center with shuffled lines.
The freshman duo Tage Thompson and Max Letunov was split up after racking up 18 combined points while sharing the same line.
The two were put back on the same line after Notre Dame notched 3 unanswered goals in the first period.
Cavanaugh said the two were a nonfactor during Saturday’s game and was hoping new faces on different lines might ignite a spark.
The switch back in the second period did produce some positives, according to Cavanaugh.
“I didn’t think it worked in the first period.” Cavanaugh said. “So that’s why we switched it up for the second period. Then I thought those guys played okay.”
This weekend’s doubleheader was the first two games of Letonuv’s young collegiate career without a point.
Bad luck with the Irish
The rout was full of moments to forget but one play in particular might fester in the Huskies minds.
Rob Nichols left the net unattended after UConn drew a delayed penalty.
Shawn Pauly tried to send the puck to the blue line but it sailed all the way down the other end of the ice and into the Huskies’ own goal.
“I haven’t seen that one in a while,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. “You see them on replays on TV, that’s about it. I haven’t seen one in college hockey like that.”
Patrick Kirtland had one of the best views of the play that seemed to capture all the games’ frustrations.
“I know [Pauly] was upset but that’s not his fault, he was just trying to find a guy to help in the slot,” Kirtland said. “ It’s just one of those days.”
The Huskies have 18 combined freshmen and sophomores, tied for the fourth highest total in the nation.
It’s an impressionable group that might not be accustomed to losing in this sort of blowout fashion.
Senior alternate captain Shawn Pauly said the key to moving on from a tough loss like this is to focus on the positives.
“I know it’s tough to stay positive after a loss like this but it’s early in the year.” said Pauly. “We did have some things we did well tonight; far and few between, but we have to take into account some things we did well and build off of it and keep trying to grow as a team.”
The Huskies will get their first chance to respond this Friday, when they host the UMass Minutemen at the XL Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men’s ice hockey. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.