Men’s Hockey: Huskies come up short in Ledyard Classic

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After three weeks off the UConn men’s hockey team was back in action this weekend, traveling to Hanover, N.H. to take part in the 31st annual Ledyard Classic. The Huskies had a thrilling weekend when all was said and done, winning in penalties in their first matchup Saturday against St. Lawrence University before falling to a tough Dartmouth team in Sunday’s Championship game.

UConn (7-7-4, 4-4-2 Hockey East) was tested early on, as the Saints were the first to strike on a powerplay in Saturday’s meeting. Senior forward Alex Gilmor slotted a rebound past the Huskies’ goalie Bradley Stone, who was making his first career start for UConn, and into the back of the net to give his team the lead six minutes into the first period. Despite getting 11 shots on net, the Huskies were unable to respond, and the first period ended with the Saints up 1-0.

The second period remained a tightly contested one until senior defensemen Wyatt Newpower found the equalizer for the Huskies halfway through. After a failed clearance attempt by St. Lawrence (3-13-3, 1-6-0 Liberty League), Newpower found himself with the puck inside the opponent’s zone. He fired a shot that had the Saints’ keeper looking silly before it settled into the far post of the net to even the score. Unfortunately for the Huskies, St. Lawrence would take back the lead just two minutes later off another rebound, this time coming from freshman forward Jordan Steinmetz.

As has been the case much of the season, the Huskies came out firing in the final period, but struggled to convert those chances into goals, and they ended up needing all 15 shots they put on net to find the tying goal in dramatic fashion. With 1:26 left and no goal in sight, UConn pulled Stone to gain the extra player. With less than a second remaining, Carter Berger fired a shot that was rebounded by Johnny Evans that was rebounded by Sasha Payusov who finally put the puck away to send the game into overtime.

After neither team scored in overtime, the match went into a shootout in which the Huskies came out on top after nine hard-fought rounds to advance to the finals against host Dartmouth.

Unlike their first matchup against the Saints, UConn was in complete control in the first period against the Big Green. The Huskies put up an impressive 12 shots on net compared to just five for Dartmouth (7-4-3, 4-2-1 ECAC) despite having two power play attempts. But even with this advantage, UConn was unable to find paydirt and the first period ended with a 0-0 tie.

The second period was much more competitive, and it was Dartmouth who struck first 13 minutes in. Junior Quin Foreman got the puck at the top of the circle a slipped one past Vomacka to take the lead. But once again, the Huskies found some late-period heroics, this time coming from Ruslan Ishkakov who broke out off a turnover and deked around Dartmouth’s keeper to score the short-handed equalizer with just four seconds remaining. 

The teams would enter the third tied, but that would change almost immediately. Less than five minutes into the final period, the Huskies were able to capitalize on the power play to take the lead, their first of the entire tournament. Freshman Vladislav Firstov found Carter Turnbull just outside the right circle, and the sophomore was able to slot the puck home to make it 2-1. He wasn’t finished there though, as just 40 seconds later Turnbull struck again for his team-leading sixth score of the year. This time the goal came as a result of a deflection from Harrison Rees’ shot, and with the way the Huskies’ defense had been playing, it looked like that would be the goal to seal the victory.

The Big Green had other plans.

With goals coming at the 6:49 and 9:38 marks for Dartmouth, what had been a scoreless game for 30 minutes was now tied at 3-3 with 10 to go, but with momentum on Dartmouth’s side, they took the lead with three minutes left off Foreman’s second goal of the night. Hoping for some late game heroics like Saturday, UConn pulled Vomacka out with 1:48 remaining, and while they created some good chances, that’s all they ended up being for the Huskies.

Despite putting up 44 shots, their second highest total of the season, compared to just 27 for Dartmouth, UConn fell to the Big Green 4-3, and will have to settle for second place after an exciting weekend. The Huskies now get a few days off before they are back home at the XL Center to face off against No.12 Northeastern in a one-and-done on Jan. 3.


Conner Gilson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at conner.gilson@uconn.edu. He tweets @connergilson03.

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