Men’s Hockey: No. 7 Huskies split weekend set with No. 13 UMass Lowell

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The No. 7 UConn men’s hockey team has split their two-game weekend set against the UMass Lowell River Hawks, losing on Friday in overtime before winning Game 2 on Saturday.

Friday’s opening contest took place from the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. UMass Lowell opened the scoring in just 58 seconds when senior Jake Stella was able to beat UConn goalie Logan Terness for the contest’s first goal. Following the goal, Terness did not allow the River Hawks to get another good look at the goal for the remainder of the period. Both UMass Lowell and the Huskies went back-and-forth taking shots at each other’s goal in the first period as the the River Hawks narrowly outshot the Huskies 13-12, though Connecticut could not find an equalizing score and entered the second period down 0-1.

The IceBus’ Chase Bradley would provide the counterpunch early in the second period after following up his own shot attempt with a rebound and a putback. After the goal, the Huskies would face penalty problems throughout the period as the team was knocked with four total penalties. On one of those penalties, the Huskies had just beaten the penalty kill and had sent the extra skater back onto the ice, but UMass Lowell’s Carl Berglund managed a score before the skater could get back on defense to regain the lead for the River Hawks, 2-1. With just under three minutes left to play in the period, Connecticut’s Tristan Fraser won a faceoff and pushed the puck straight back towards Nick Capone, who fired a quick shot past goalie Gustavs Davis Grigals to even the score at 2-2. The score would remain the same entering the third period with each team having attempted 24 shots apiece. 

The third period proved to be a defensive battle as both Terness and Grigals both stepped up for their respective teams in the goal. Though the two teams went back-and-forth exchanging possessions, neither could secure the go-ahead score. With the score still knotted at two at the end of the period, a sudden-death overtime period was needed to determine a winner.

In overtime, Connecticut nearly stole the road win from the River Hawks early into play off a two-man rush. However, Grigals made an incredible kick save on the Huskies’ wraparound attempt, sprawling onto the ice to prevent the opponent from sneaking the puck past him. With just over a minute to spare before the game would’ve moved to a shootout, Berglund led the breakout and scored his second goal of the contest, this one to win the game for the River Hawks, 3-2.

Game 2 came on Saturday, this time from the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. On their home ice, it was UConn that opened the scoring in the first period on a goal from Jake Percival. Offensive facilitator Ryan Tverberg circled around the UMass Lowell net and made the pass to Percival in front of the net, where the freshman corralled the pass and found space in the goal behind Grigals. A few minutes later, Justin Pearson gained a full head of steam off of a pass from Matthew Wood and fired a shot under the crossbar and into the net to up the IceBus’ lead to 2-0. Solid defense and a strong showing by Arsenii Sergeev in the goal were enough to prevent the River Hawks’ offense from getting off to a hot start in the opening frame.

In the second period, UMass Lowell would cut into the Connecticut lead when Scout Truman put pressure on Husky captain Roman Kinal. Truman was able to force the puck loose from Kinal on UConn’s side of the rink and fired a shot that would sneak past Sergeev. However, three minutes later, freshman Tabor Heaslip forced his way into the River Hawks goal on a shot attempt by one of his teammates and managed to stick the rebound back into the net to regain a two goal lead for the Huskies. The score remained 3-1 at the end of the second period.

Connecticut hoped to step up their defense in order to keep the River Hawks from making a comeback in the final period of play. Sergeev made multiple saves in the goal to keep UMass Lowell from cutting into UConn’s lead. A goal seven minutes into the period by Zach Kaiser made the score 3-2 and breathed some life back into the River Hawks, but the team was forced to pull their goalie and use an extra skater on offense as time continued to tick. With the goalie pulled, Tverberg drained the open-net goal to cement the 4-2 victory for the Huskies.

With the split, the No. 7 Huskies advance to 10-2-3 overall on the season. The team remains atop Hockey East with a record of 7-2-2 in conference play. The Huskies were able to collect four points following their overtime loss and win in regulation over UMass Lowell this weekend. Connecticut now has 24 points on the season, two better than second-best Northeastern (22 points) in Hockey East.

UConn’s next game will be The Frozen Apple contest against Cornell University on Saturday, Nov. 26. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. from Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. Live updates from the game will be provided online by StatBroadcast.

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