The UConn men’s hockey team survived a home-and-home series with the top-five ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks.
The action started Friday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts, where the Huskies were able to knock off the River Hawks on their home ice. The two teams were knotted at 2-2 after the first period but UConn was able to keep UMass Lowell off the board for the rest of the contest. A Tage Thompson goal early in the second period proved to be the difference.
UConn was outshot 10-4 in the final period and had to hold off the River Hawks for the last 1:18 when they pulled their goaltender to make a 6-4 advantage on the ice.
The two teams met again Saturday for a 3:35 p.m. matinee in downtown Hartford at the XL Center.
Both squads were held scoreless in the first despite the Huskies getting two opportunities on the power play and outscoring the River Hawks 13-6.
“We knew that they were going to come out and play extremely hard,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “We knew that they weren’t happy with their effort last night, and I thought we responded really well. We played an excellent first period.”
Both teams got their scoring done in the second period. UConn’s Spencer Naas found himself alone with Lowell’s net-minder Garret Metcalf, and was able to bury a wrist shot to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. The goal is Naas’s seventh of the season.
The River Hawks tied it soon after on Michael Kapla’s first goal of the season off a pass from John Edwardh. Edwardh found the back of the net himself soon after, giving the River Hawks a lead.
UConn was able to tie it up in the closing minutes of the period. The Huskies’ Karl El-Mir was able to redirect a Joe Masonius shot from the blue line.
The third period was a fantastic display of talent from both goalies. Lowell’s Metcalf and UConn’s Adam Huska both made highlight reel saves to keep their teams in the game. Metcalf made 12 saves in the third while Huska made 11.
UMass Lowell outshot the Huskies 2-1 in the overtime period.
“I was happy with our effort,” River Hawks head coach Norm Bazin said. “After last night I wasn’t thrilled with our effort through a sixty-minute game but tonight we avoided any sustained lulls.”
With the win and the tie, UConn is 3-1-2 in Hockey East action this season. The Huskies have taken the series with UMass Lowell for the second consecutive season. UConn is unbeaten in their last five meetings with the River Hawks, with all five games coming when UMass Lowell was ranked top-five nationally.
“We’ve had a little success against (UMass Lowell) and our kids started believing we can beat them,” Cavanugh explained. “I don’t know if I have a real answer for it, we match up pretty well against them. I’d like that to be the case with a lot more teams, like Geno (Auriemma) does, he does well against everybody.”