The UConn men’s hockey team wrapped up a two game series at Union College in Schenectady, New York and finished with an even split. Coming into the weekend, the Ice Bus was in need of some momentum. In game one of the two-game set at Messa Rink at Achilles Center, the Huskies lost for the third straight time.
In the opening game on Friday, Oct, 20, UConn generated 80 total chances and outshot the Garnet Chargers 37-22, but they only managed to get one puck past goaltender Kyle Chauvette. The Union defense pressured the Huskies throughout the entire game, keeping them off the scoreboard completely for the first two periods. Connecticut continued their early season struggle on the power play, finishing 0-for-7 on the night, including a failed attempt on a 5-on-3 opportunity. Union took a 1-0 lead in the first period after Caden Villegas found the net. Villegas leads Union in scoring with four on the season; Nick Young and Nate Hanely assisted the first goal over the Huskies.
Early in the third period, the Huskies got on the board for the equalizer goal scored by Harrison Rees. The senior captain picked up his first goal of the season after a pass from freshman Jake Richard, who earned his leading fifth point of the season.
Connecticut added a lot of pressure on offense early in the third period and tied the game. However, Union responded with three straight goals. UConn ran out of time and was not able to find an answer to Union’s roaring offense in the final period.
The Huskies had sophomore goaltender Arsenii Sergeev in the net, who finished the night with 18 saves. The Huskies dropped the opening game to Union 4-1 and their record fell to 1-3-1. UConn looked to bounce back and snap their losing streak in the closing night of the season, and they did just that.
On Saturday, Oct, 21, the Huskies got back in the win column with a 5-0 victory over Union. Sophomore Tristan Fraser scored two goals and senior goaltender Ethan Haider put up a 22 save shutout.
The first period came and went without either of the teams scoring. While UConn outshot the Garnet Chargers 21-4, they weren’t able to capitalize on any of the opportunities that came about at the net. Strong defense by Union’s netminder Chauvette kept the Huskies scoreless in the first frame.
The Huskies added continuous pressure on the Garnet Charger’s defense. They maintained puck possession and created many chances to score. Finally, they captured the opportunity after sophomore Matthew Wood fired a one-timer off the face to get UConn on the board. After that, the Huskies offense got rolling. Sophomore Samu Salminen was able to find junior Chase Braldey in a crowd of skaters in front of the net to score, which gave UConn a two-goal lead. Backing Bradley’s score, Fraser redirected a shot that got past the goaltender to extend Connecticut’s lead to three goals going into the period break. In those two periods, the Huskies outshot the Garnet Chargers 39-13 and had a 3-0 lead.
The Huskies offense did not slow down as they scored two more goals. Early in the final frame, there was a scramble for the puck after a shot on the net and graduate student Ryan Mashie found the back of the net for his first career goal as a Husky. Ethan Haider and the Huskies defense were able to shine with the four goal lead as the clock was winding down. Haider denied anything that was coming his way at the net and kept UConn in front. The Huskies used Haider’s dominance to continue adding pressure and attacked Union. Late in the game in a two on one rush, Fraser scored for the second time that night. UConn had a five goal lead and sealed the non-conference victory against the Union Garnet Chargers.
Haider sealed his first win and shutout game in his career with the Huskies. UConn’s offense found a spark and bounced back coming off of Friday night’s loss. They finished the night with 69 shots on goal and now have something positive to look at as they are now finished with facing non conference opponents.
UConn will continue their season and begin their Hockey East conference schedule with a home and home series with UMass Lowell. The series will start in Lowell, Mass on Friday, Oct 27; puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.. The Huskies will then travel back to Connecticut to face the River Hawks at the XL Center on Saturday, Oct, 28. Puck drop is set for 4:00 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on ESPN+.