Men’s Hockey: No. 13 Huskies lose two over weekend to hot Wildcats 

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.

The No. 13 University of Connecticut men’s hockey team caught the New Hampshire Wildcats at the wrong time over the weekend, losing both of the team’s weekend matchups to enable UNH’s win streak to extend to four consecutive games. 

The Huskies and Wildcats played the first of their two contests at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, New Hampshire on Friday. UNH got off to a quick start when Connecticut’s Roman Kinal was called for interference two minutes into the opening period. New Hampshire’s Chase Stevenson dribbled the penalty shot up the ice, lined up UConn’s net and wound up a touchdown pass straight by goalkeeper Logan Terness, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 advantage. On the other end of the period, with just over two minutes remaining before intermission, Stevenson once again picked his team up. After teammate Colton Huard’s initial shot was deflected before reaching Connecticut’s goal, Stevenson crashed the net to recover the loose puck. With his momentum taking him away from the front of the goal, Stevenson turned on his skates and fired a dart from nearly right beside the goal. Amazingly, the puck struck the inside of the pole and fell into the net for a score, raising New Hampshire’s lead to 2-0. 

Connecticut was able to break onto the scoreboard with a beautiful display of passing in the sixth minute of the second period. As the puck crossed behind UNH’s goal, UConn’s Justin Pearson came up with the puck on the rightmost side of the net. As he turned his back, teammate Hudson Schandor cut towards the middle of the ice and Pearson made the connection. Schandor came up with the puck as he crashed the Wildcats’ goal, quickly wristing the shot past New Hampshire goalie David Fessenden for a UConn score. With the goal, the Ice Bus cut into New Hampshire’s lead, making the score 2-1 after two periods. 

The Wildcats answered the Huskies’ goal in the second period by taking control in the third. The team did not allow UConn to challenge their lead and tie the game throughout the period. Two goals at the end of the game cemented the victory for UNH. With Connecticut pulling their goalkeeper in favor of an extra skater with one minute remaining, New Hampshire’s Ryan Black recovered a loose puck near his opponent’s goal and converted a third goal on a diving effort, elevating his team’s lead to 3-1. Liam Devlin then managed another open-goal score just before the final buzzer sounded to cement the 4-1 win for the Wildcats. 

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.

The contest saw Connecticut fail to convert on their only power play, while UNH was unsuccessful in two tries. The Huskies committed more penalties than the Wildcats, 3-1. Terness recorded 28 saves in the loss, while Fessenden tallied 24 saves in the victory. 

Game two followed on Saturday, also taking place in Whittemore Center. This time it was the Huskies who got on the board first, courtesy of a shot in transition by Harrison Rees in the 16th minute of the first period. The score gave Connecticut a one-goal lead, an advantage which they held up until the 11th minute of the second period. The Wildcats fired off a couple of shots that were all deflected by UConn goalie Arsenii Sergeev before Stiven Sardarian finally gained control of the puck and flicked up a no-doubt shot into the net. As a result, the two teams entered the third period tied with one goal apiece. 

The two teams would be tied for only the first two minutes of the third period. At this point, New Hampshire’s Huard took the puck towards the center of the ice and rifled off a long shot. Teammate Jake Dunlap crossed into the line of the puck and deflected it ever so slightly, confusing Connecticut’s defense as the puck continued its trajectory into the goal. Dunlap was credited with the go-ahead goal as he awarded his team a 2-1 lead. The advantage was short-lived, with the Ice Bus finding an answer just five minutes later. UConn’s Kinal found Pearson for a quick slapshot, and the forward slipped the one-timer beyond New Hampshire goalie Tyler Muszelik, making the score two-all. The third period ended with the score still knotted, and an overtime period was played to decide a winner. 

New Hampshire was able to come away with the victory following a score just under three minutes into the overtime period. Both Dunlap and Stevenson broke away from UConn’s side of the ice with just one defender and the goalkeeper separating them from the net. As the two approached the Huskies’ goal, Stevenson dumped the puck off to Dunlap who found Damian  Carfagna trailing the duo. Carfagna received the puck heading straight towards Sergeev and converted UNH’s third goal of the game, this one being a game-winner. 

This season has been a roller coaster for the Wildcats, who have ripped off multiple wins against ranked opponents throughout the campaign, though endured a stretch of 13 straight contests without a victory from Oct. 23 to Dec. 9. Despite the hardships the team has endured, they seem to be turning a corner just as the regular season settles into its final few weeks. Prior to their two victories versus the Huskies, New Hampshire defeated No. 15 Merrimack in overtime on Feb. 3 and No. 16 UMass Lowell on Feb. 4, respectively, giving the team four straight wins against ranked teams. The team’s overall record on the season improves to 11-18-1, including a 6-13-1 mark in Hockey East play. With their regulation and overtime wins over the weekend, the Wildcats gained five points on the conference leaderboard, giving them 19 on the season and tying them with UMass Amherst for the conference’s ninth spot. 

Meanwhile, Connecticut misses a major opportunity to catapult back into the top-three teams in the conference. The team was able to compile a point in the conference standings with their loss in overtime on Saturday, though their 35 points this season still leave them trailing third-ranked Merrimack by one point. The team is still within striking distance of the top spot in the Hockey East as they are only a few points behind No. 1 Boston University (41 points) and No. 2 Northeastern (40 points). The Huskies will require some luck to jump the top three teams in the conference as the number of games remaining in the regular season continues to boil down, limiting the number of opportunities the team has to gain points. UConn’s overall record on the campaign shifts to 17-10-3, including a 11-8-2 mark in Hockey East play. 

UConn’s next game will come against the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. The contest will take place on Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Toscano Ice Forum in Storrs, Connecticut, and tickets will be made available only to UConn students. Puck-drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., with television coverage provided by ESPN+ and radio coverage on ESPN 97.9 FM. 

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