Men’s Hockey:  No. 13 UConn sweeps UMass and earns first win at Toscano Family Ice Forum 

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UConn comes back from being down 1-0 in the first period to a tie in the 2nd period. UConn end up winning the game against UMass 3-1 at Toscano Family Ice Forum in Storrs, CT. Photo by Jordan Arnold/The Daily Campus

After a tough stretch of games against Northeastern, No. 13 UConn got back on its feet with an overtime win at UMass on Friday night. To finish the series against the Minutemen on Saturday, the Huskies sealed their first win at the Toscano Family Ice Forum to complete the sweep. 

In the opening game in Hadley, Massachusetts, Freshman Arsenii Sergeev was in the net for UConn and had 14 saves in the first period. The Huskies got the lead first when junior Hudson Schandor received a pass from graduate student and knocked the puck right over the shoulder of the UMass goaltender to score. Not long after, the Minutemen made a fast rebound and evened out the score with a goal from sophomore Scott Morrow going into the period break.   

The second session was all about defense. During that time, Sergeev made several significant saves that kept the game even. About halfway through the period, Ty Amonte’s shot was deflected and landed in perfect position for freshman Jake Percival to launch the puck into the goal. Sergeev made 10 saves in the period, keeping the Huskies on top going into the break with a 2-1 lead. 

UMass picked up the offense in the third period when sophomore Lucas Mercuri scored the game-tying goal. The Minutemen took the lead after a hooking penalty by freshman Samu Salminen which gave them the power play advantage. With just under ten minutes left in the game, the Huskies were down 3-2. Late into the period, Schandor equaled the score at three with his second score of the night. In the final minutes, both teams were unable to find the back of the net, forcing the game into overtime.  

For the entirety of the overtime minutes, neither team was able to get to the back of the net. Defense played a significant role with both netminders making huge saves to keep the game at three. With less than 20 seconds left on the clock, sophomore Chase Bradley gathered the loose puck and skated it all the way to the offensive zone to ultimately fire the game winning shot past the UMass keeper, junior Henry Graham. As the Huskies were celebrating the goal, the clock winded out, closing out the win for UConn. This victory improved the Huskies’ overall record to 14-7-3. 

The Huskies returned home to Storrs on Saturday to play their second ever game at the Toscano Family Ice Forum and final game of the series against UMass.  

Just 12 seconds into the game, UMass jumped to an early lead after sophomore Ryan Lautenbach scored an unassisted goal. From that point, a fire was lit under the Huskies, as they were dominant for the rest of the game. UConn immediately fought back, getting very close to the back of the net on several occasions but never finding the equalizer in the first period. Going into the break, UConn outshot UMass 12-7 but missed the opportunity to get on the board.  

In the second period, UConn put tons of pressure on the UMass defense and controlled the puck in their zone. Arguably, the Huskies’ most impressive period of the season. After a series of missed shots, junior Nick Capone launched one past UMass netminder sophomore Luke Pavicich to tie the game. Capone was assisted by junior Ryan Tverberg and the puck went back and forth for the rest of the period, but neither team was able to net a goal to take the lead. The Huskies stayed on the right side of the ice as they outshot the Minutemen 16-3 in the period.  

The Huskies surged through the final period of the game and overpowered the Minutemen’s defense. As they’ve been doing throughout the entire game, they continued to own possessions for long patches of time. After tick-tac-toe passes from Schandor and freshman Matthew Wood, graduate student Justin Pearson was able to break the tie and gain UConn’s first lead of the game. Soon after, Bradley spotted Tverberg and passed for the cross ice goal as insurance to the Huskies late in the period. This broke Tverberg’s nine-game goalless stretch and eased UConn to victory.  

Connecticut secured the 3-1 win as its first in the newly opened Toscano Family Ice Forum and improved its overall record to 15-7-3.  

“[The win] meant a lot because this is a special arena and it’s going to be a great home ice advantage for us,” said Head Coach Mike Cavanaugh on his first win at the new on-campus arena. “I loved the crowd tonight and the energy in the building – we are going to win a lot of hockey games here.” 

Despite the first 12 seconds of the game that kept UMass ahead at the start, the Huskies were able to stay on top and put together one of, if not the best performance they’ve had all year. UConn did not equalize the game until midway through the second period, but in between then they were determined in the offensive zone resulting in their season high 42 shots on goal. The Huskies kept the Minutemen in single digit shots on goal in every period while they remained in double digits.  

“I thought that was the most complete game that we’ve played all year long – I thought we played excellent in all three zones for 59 minutes and 48 seconds,” said Cavanaugh. 

The Huskies will now take a weekend off from Hockey East action to play in the Connecticut hockey tournament. They are set to face Yale in the first round on Friday, Jan. 28 at M&T Bank Arena in Hamden.  

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