In its first home game since Dec. 6, UConn dropped a non-conference rematch with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) 5-2.
UConn (7-14-1) fell behind early, surrendering a goal to Chase Zieky during the fifth minute of the game. Zieky is one of three transfers recently added to this RPI team, and made them a much different team than the one UConn saw earlier in the season. After trading penalties in the 13th and 14th minutes, UConn and RPI (7-15) failed to capitalize, and the first period ended 1-0.
The second period was much more eventful. With less than eight minutes left in the period, Zieky struck again, this time during a power play, to put RPI up 2-0. Then, UConn finally fought back.
A little over one minute later, Brian Rigali put the Huskies on the board. He found an opening in the defense and put a shot into the top corner of the goal, assists on the play going to Max Kalter and Evan Wisocky. Rigali’s third goal of the season put UConn within striking distance,making the score 2-1.
The celebration was short lived, however. RPI scored with less than a minute left to play in the second period to extend its lead to 3-1. The goal came off of another power play, and the puck came off of the stick of Todd Burgess.
Suddenly playing with urgency, UConn was able to cut the lead back down to one thanks to a crafty goal by Miles Gendron. Karl El-Mir and Jachym Kondelik received assists on the play.
“In the third period, he [Gendron] was trying to put the team on his back,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “In the third period we played desperate. We have to play desperate from the start. If we don’t play desperate from here on out, we won’t make the playoffs.”
With less than three minutes left to play, RPI put the cherry on top of its victory with an open net goal by Brady Wiffen, making the final score 5-2.
Though RPI secured the win by three goals, the Huskies actually out-shot the Engineers 33 to 28. The difference, obviously, was that RPI’s shots found the net more often than UConn’s.
“Everyone wants to make a play, but we find our success when we defend at the point of attack,” RPI head coach Dave Smith said. Smith’s team did exactly that, making sure that any look UConn got was contested and didn’t give them anything easy.
Cavanaugh thought the Huskies looked good in the five-on-five, but special teams continues to be an issue. “The game came down to special teams for sure. I thought five-on-five it was a pretty even game. On special teams they had two power play goals, and had the empty netter. That makes the 5-2 score right there,” Cavanaugh said.
UConn will play their next game Friday, Jan. 25 at home against Hockey East rival, the University of New Hampshire (7-8-6). UNH is coming off of an impressive 6-4 win over Boston College. The game will start at 7 p.m.
Sean Janos is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.