In an important weekend series, Hockey East foes the University of Connecticut Huskies and the University of Maine Black Bears squared up in Orono, Maine. The Black Bears came into the contest winless, with the Huskies one victory over .500.
In the first game of the series, the Huskies very nearly had a goal in the first few minutes during a power play, but it was called off by the referees. The Huskies escaped a flurry of Maine power plays early, but ultimately couldn’t stop the Bears from netting their first goal on a fast break, seeing Adriaen Bisson drill a beautiful shot to take a 1-0 lead.
To close the first period, UConn interestingly pulled goalkeeper Darion Hanson, but was awarded a power play just after to make the move unnecessary. The Huskies couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity, but a moment later got another on a Maine hooking call.
Less than 10 seconds into the advantage, John Spetz stole it from a Black Bear and poked it to Nick Capone, who sent it to Vladislav Firstov, deflecting it in to tie things up.
Just five minutes later, the Huskies took the lead on a shot into the corner of the goal by Ryan Tverberg, his fifth score of the season, on a pass from Hudson Schandor.
Maine squandered a power play opportunity, but less than a minute after, Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup drove left and centered it to David Breazeale, who deflected it to Grant Herbert, who sent it into the net, making it a 2-2 game.
Right after the Maine goal, UConn’s Tverberg retook the lead on an opportunity from the rebound of another shot, drilling the puck into the vacant net for his second of the contest.
Just six seconds into the final period, the Bears caught Hanson sleeping in a play that saw Maine’s Jakub Sirota net a goal directly off the faceoff to knot things up again.
With seven minutes left in the contest, Hanson was clipped in the head by a Black Bear forward, leading to a power play. Less than 15 seconds into the advantage, the Huskies made the most of the chance, with Jachym Kondelik putting in a goal to get UConn on top for good.
Despite an empty net effort late, the Huskies held on to take a gritty, physical win in the first game of the set.
On the game, Coach Cavanaugh noted that “I thought we were outplayed today by Maine,” and that “the powerplay bailed us out.”
In the second game of the series, UConn had a clear advantage in shots to start. The Huskies kept the pressure on the Black Bears the entire first period but were unable to capitalize. The Huskies couldn’t convert for the majority of their power play, until just after the penalized Black Bear came back onto the ice. Before the man could get back into action from the box, Tverberg snuck one through the five-hole to give UConn the 1-0 advantage right at the end of the first period.
Early in the second period, Maine developed a fast break and Donovan Villeneuve-Houle drove in the equalizer on a long distance shot past Hanson.
Not two minutes later, Marc Gatcomb got the puck behind the goal and delivered a crisp pass to Harrison Rees, who hit the one-timer past the glove of Black Bear keeper Victor Ostma to regain the lead. Less than 30 seconds after that, Maine responded, with Villeneuve-Hould netting another, evening things at two apiece.
The Huskies played well to close out the session, avoiding a Maine power play score and also getting a fair number of shots up themselves. Ultimately, neither team had anything to show for it, entering the third period tied.
The Bears played great defense to prevent the Huskies from converting on any of their several chances in the third period, sending the contest to a three-on-three overtime period.
The squads traded countless opportunities in the extra period, but neither side could get the puck into the net. With less than thirty seconds left, Marc Gatcomb took a shot from far out. Ostman blocked the shot. Rees got the rebound and stuck it in for his second of the game to give the Huskies a critical overtime victory to sweep the series and collect five out of the weekend’s six points.
Tverberg is the real deal — Ryan Tverberg has been sensational this season and brought his offensive prowess to Orono, netting three goals and collecting an assist. The Ontario product and future Toronto Maple Leaf is clearly the x-factor for the Huskies, leading the team in points.
Steady Hanson — Darion Hanson proved yet again why he is sitting in-goal this weekend, continually keeping the Huskies in the game. On the weekend, Hanson collected 45 saves on just five goals, demonstrating his ability to control contests. Although he was a bit shaken up towards the end of the first night, he came back Saturday and put on a clinic.
The Huskies line up this Friday to face No. 14 Boston College at the XL Center in Hartford.