Another night, another struggle for UConn’s power play unit. The Huskies went 0-for-6 on the power play on Friday, consigning the team to their fifth defeat of the season.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” said UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh. “I think the story of the game was we went 0-for-6 on the power play. We had a lot of chances to score goals, and we didn’t.”
Power play woes
The Huskies (3-5-0, 1-4-0) are now just 6-for-33 with a man advantage this season, and have been blanked by opposing penalty kill units in their last three games. Since their four-goal outburst against Boston University, UConn has gone 0-for-5, 0-for-4, and now 0-for-6 on the power play.
Cavanaugh made a risky decision to pull goalie Rob Nichols on the power play with just 1:56 left in the game. Halfway through a UMass penalty, the Huskies has an offensive zone faceoff, and Cavanaugh opted to bring Nichols back to the bench to get the extra skater.
The decision nearly paid off, as UConn won the ensuing face off, and snapped a shot right at UMass goaltender Nic Renyard. However, Renyard blocked it wide, right to defenseman William Lagesson. Laggeson attempted to ice the puck, but the puck found the Huskies’ unattended net.
Despite the shorthanded empty netter, Cavanaugh believes it was a risk worth taking. With time winding down, UConn needed to find the tying goal. The potential 6-on-4 advantage was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“I’d do it again,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re trying to tie the game up, we’re not trying to keep it close.”
The Huskies managed to rack up 11 shots on their six power plays, but were unable to beat Renyard. The chances were there, but the finishing was not.
Schwartz, El-Mir tally first goals
Though the power play unit finished 0-for-6, the Huskies grabbed even strength goals in the first and second periods.
The first came off the stick of sophomore Jesse Schwartz. UConn had a long stretch of dominance in UMass’s zone, culminating in their first goal of the night. Senior Kyle Huson ripped a slap shot at net, which deflected off of a player and the goal frame before landing for Shawn Pauly in front of net. With Renyard in front of him, Pauly found a cutting Schwartz, who buried it for his first goal of the year.
Somehow it went off [Kirtland], off the post, back out to [Shawn] Pauly,” Schwartz said. “It came out to me, and I just cleaned it up.”
Freshman Karl El-Mir also notched his first goal of the season in his third game. His first career goal came with 4:03 left in the second, with the Huskies desperately in need of a second goal heading into the third. El-Mir smoothly backhanded a feed from Joey Ferriss past Renyard to level things at two.
Hitting the post
UConn saw their fair share of bad luck on Friday night. The Huskies hit the post four times against UMass, and saw two goals waved off after review. The first instance came on UConn’s first goal, when Huson’s drive deflected off of Kirtland before making its way to Schwartz, who tied the game at one.
Corey Ronan and Spencer Naas each thought they had scored in the second period, before a review negated each goal. Evan Richardson was the pipe’s final victim, denying him the Huskies’ second goal. El-Mir would eventually tie it up several minutes later, but not before UConn had several golden opportunities to break the game open.
Peter Harasyko is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn men’s hockey. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.