Huskies split weekend series against UNH Wildcats

In this 2017 file photo, the UConn men’s hockey team played against UNH at the XL center. File photo/The Daily Campus

The UConn Huskies worked very hard this weekend in their series against the New Hampshire Wildcats, winning the Friday night meeting and losing in overtime on Saturday night. The Huskies are 3-5-1 overall and sit tied for third in conference standings at 13 points. New Hampshire is sitting at 2-2-1 in Hockey East and is tied for sixth in the conference with six points.

In Durham, New Hampshire, the Huskies were able to net a pair of goals to put them over the Wildcats on Friday afternoon. Defenseman Roman Kinal and John Spetz scored the pair for UConn, after the team fell behind UNH after a Wildcat goal in the first. Spetz got the game-tying goal at 12:59 in the second period after a UConn power play. Kinal scored the first goal since his first season with the Huskies during the 2018 season. The game-winning goal was put into the net just 1:16 into the third period. UNH goalie Mike Robinson was a standout player for the Wildcats despite the loss, stopping 31 shots that night.

In Storrs, it was a much less successful story for the Huskies. The team was ahead 1-0 into the third period after a power play goal from Marc Gatcomb but lost in a heartbreaking overtime loss. New Hampshire were able to drag themselves onto the board after a goal with only 7:12 left in regulation.

A huge piece of the Huskies’ loss came from UNH being able to go onto the power play during the 3-on-3 overtime. Jonny Evans was sent to the box after being called on a questionable boarding penalty, which put the Wildcats a man up in a now 4-on-3 overtime period. After the fourth UNH player took to the ice, the game was contained entirely within UConn’s zone with the Wildcats driving the conversation. As hard as UConn defensemen tried, New Hampshire skaters kept control of the puck and were able to get past them. 

“They played more desperate hockey than we did,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “They were pushing the pace and instead of us playing on our toes and dictating the pace of play, they did and we were back on our heels. We were playing hoping to win 1-0 instead of trying to get that second goal.”

UNH goalie Mike Robinson was yet again a standout player for the rally in Storrs, making 11 saves in the third period and one vital save in overtime which allowed the Wildcats to maintain momentum and keep up the pressure on the Huskies. UConn goaltender Tomas Vomacka made 31 saves that night, and the Huskies were able to maintain a shots on goal advantage, with 37 over New Hampshire’s 33.

After the loss in Storrs, Cavanaugh said, “We have to get more bodies to the net, more pucks to the net, and be tougher and stronger around the net. It’s hard to score in Hockey East, you look at a lot of the games and it’s almost like a race to three. If someone can get to three it seems like they have a good chance to win.”

The Huskies next take to the ice for a two game series against UMass Amherst this week. The Icebus will depart for Amherst on Thursday and then return to the Freitas on Sunday for a 4 p.m. game. 

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