After a couple weeks of self-isolation due to a positive test of COVID-19 among the team, UConn got back on the ice to face New Hampshire a second time this season. In their first game back on Friday, they faced a hard-fought battle against the Wildcats at the Freitas Ice Forum that ultimately finished in a 6-5 win for the Huskies in overtime.
The first period unfolded an electric 20 minutes that ended 3-3. Within the first five minutes, UNH (3-7-1) scored the opening goal after Lucas Herrmann netted the puck in, his first of the season, with the assist from Carsen Richels. Less than three minutes later, UConn (5-5-1) brought the game leveled from the first power play of the match. Carter Turnbull got ahold of a rebounded puck that was blocked by UNH goaltender Mike Robinson and successfully slotted the puck in the back of the net. The Wildcats found themselves in the lead by the midpoint of the first period thanks to defenseman Luke Reid, but UConn’s Vladislav Firstov, who recently returned from the World Juniors, leveled the scoreboard not too long afterward. Turnbull brought the Huskies in the lead at the 18:28 mark, but that lead was ultimately shut down by UNH’s Jackson Pierson in the final minute of the first period.
The second period wasn’t as thrilling compared to the first, but it did see the Huskies take the lead again thanks to Firstov scoring on the power play, securing his pair for the match. Despite Jonny Evans increasing the lead after scoring in the third minute of the final period, the third period saw a Husky lead diminished as the Wildcats made a quick comeback. A scoreless period until the 15:22 mark, UNH closed the goal deficit thanks to Ryan Verrier, followed by a Filip Engaras equalizer with just over half a minute left in the period. This led the game to go into OT, though it didn’t last long as Turnbull netted his hat trick to secure their third home win at Freitas.
On Saturday, the Huskies took the ice bus to Whittemore Center where they dominated the Wildcats in their own rink 8-3. Much like Friday’s game, the first period was action-packed. Evans and Brian Rigali scored, and the game ended 2-2. The second period consisted of power plays that yielded no outcome; however, the Huskies managed to slot in two goals at the sticks of Ryan Wheeler, his first collegiate goal, and Hudson Schandor. UConn maintained this domination, slapping four more goals into the back of the net of which three were scored at the power plays. The Wildcats’ final goal also came in this period at the 16:38 mark by Pierson.
“It was certainly a good win for our team, but I also understand that New Hampshire is depleted without…five really good players,” head coach Mike Cavanaugh said in a post-match press conference. “Overall, I’m happy with the way we responded in the third period, and happy to come away with a sweep on the weekend.”
UConn’s next series will be a rematch against UMass Lowell, with their first match on Friday at Freitas.