Men’s Hockey: Huskies start hot, finish cold in first game at Toscano Ice Forum 

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UConn men’s hockey pick up a 4-3 loss against Northeastern following a Saturday night matchup at the Toscano Family Ice Forum in Storrs, Conn on Jan. 14. Although being ahead for most of the game, the UConn Huskies lost their lead in the third period where Northeastern broke through scoring three goals. By Sofia Sawchuk/The Daily Campus

The No. 11 University of Connecticut men’s hockey team lost its second consecutive contest to the Northeastern Huskies on Saturday by a final score of 4-3. 

Saturday’s matchup marked UConn’s first on their new home ice at the Toscano Ice Forum in Storrs, Conn. Breaking in the new ice, both teams came out of the gate with seemingly added energy; the home team looking to secure a victory for the home fans and Northeastern looking to play spoiler.  

With the fans making their presence felt immediately from the opening puck-drop, the Ice Bus dominated possession in the game’s first two minutes. Graduate student Justin Pearson had an opportunity to sink the first score of the contest in the sixth minute when he broke free down the right side of the ice, but his shot was swallowed up by the Northeastern goalkeeper, junior Devon Levi. Connecticut entered the penalty kill later in the sixth minute, though graduate student Ty Amonte gained control of the puck and again broke free still down a skater, but his shot was saved by Levi. The first score of the contest came during a delayed penalty call against Northeastern in the fifteenth minute. With the penalty, UConn pulled their goalie in favor of an extra skater, and sophomore Chase Bradley capitalized by penetrating behind the goal, deflecting his shot off of Levi and into the net. The first period ended with the Ice Bus holding a 1-0 edge. 

Both teams exchanged good looks during the first four minutes of the second period, with players from each side turning up the physicality. Northeastern entered the power play in the fourth minute after a Connecticut penalty, but the home team killed the advantage with multiple defensive stops to clear the away puck from their goal. UConn managed a second score on a redirected shot by senior Roman Kinal in the eighth minute. After teammate Harrison Rees put a shot on-goal from just inside the offensive zone, Kinal slipped into the shot’s path and elevated the puck past Levi and into the net to up the Ice Bus’ lead to 2-0. Penalties were called on both teams during the play, and four-on-four hockey was played for the next two minutes. 

In the twelfth minute, UConn got out to a fast break, but a quick steal by Northeastern turned the puck around before Connecticut could get back on defense. Now on a two-on-one fastbreak, Liam Walsh made a quick cross pass to Jakov Novak streaking up the right side of the ice, who fired his shot before UConn goalie Logan Terness had time to react. The goal cut Connecticut’s lead down to 2-1. The away team followed up the goal with more penetration over the next several minutes, but timely saves by Terness maintained the one score lead heading into the period break. 

UConn men’s hockey pick up a 4-3 loss against Northeastern following a Saturday night matchup at the Toscano Family Ice Forum in Storrs, Conn on Jan. 14. Although being ahead for most of the game, the UConn Huskies lost their lead in the third period where Northeastern broke through scoring three goals. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk/The Daily Campus

The Ice Bus looked like they were well on their way to a victory after dominating the first twelve minutes of the third period, stringing together multiple good shot attempts while not allowing Northeastern many opportunities of their own. However, failing to convert any of those shots proved costly, as Northeastern came back to tie the game on a power play in the twelfth minute. After playing extremely physically all game, Northeastern’s Jayden Struble was the victim of a hard clipping penalty to give his team the penalty advantage, and teammate Aidan McDonough made UConn pay by sinking a score on a well-times cross pass, tying the game at two apiece. Three minutes later, it was McDonough again coming up big for his team. This time, the senior made a few nice puck fakes in front of Terness before wrapping a shot behind the goalie, suddenly giving Northeastern a 3-2 lead and silencing the home fans. 

With just over three minutes left, Connecticut committed yet another penalty and once again, Northeastern benefitted from the extra skater. Jack Hughes received the puck looking straight on at Connecticut’s goal and had time to line up his shot, converting a fourth goal for Northeastern to double their lead, 4-2. The Ice Bus pulled their goalie in favor of an extra skater in the final minute and entered the power play following a Northeastern penalty. Chaos ensued as Connecticut players swarmed the Northeastern goal, with freshman Samu Salminen managing a putback score with 30 seconds remaining to cut the lead down to 4-3, keeping UConn’s hopes alive. On the play, a 10 minute major misconduct penalty was called against Northeastern, but after a referee review, the penalty was called back and instead, a two minute penalty was called against UConn for delaying the game, sending the home fans into a frenzy. Immediately after, Northeastern challenged the play thinking that goalie interference occurred, but the goal was confirmed. The Ice Bus couldn’t find an equalizing score in the final 30 seconds, and boos rained down at the Toscano Ice Forum as the final buzzer was sound. 

With the loss, Connecticut falls to 13-7-3 overall on the season, including an 8-6-2 mark in Hockey East play. They have been jumped by Northeastern for the second spot in the conference standings, who with the win picked up their 28th point in conference play this season, one better than UConn’s 27. With their second-straight win against the ranked Ice Bus, Northeastern figures to see a significant bump in the national rankings. UConn, on the other hand, will likely see their ranking continue to fall and will need to do some soul-searching following a fourth-consecutive conference loss. 

UConn’s next game will come against Hockey East rival UMass Amherst on Friday, Jan. 20 from the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., with television coverage provided by NESN+ and radio coverage on ESPN 97.9 FM. 

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