MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The UConn men’s hockey team fell behind 4-0 in the second period on the way to a 5-2 loss to Ferris State in the consolation game of the 25th annual Mariucci Classic Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis. The Huskies cut the Bulldogs lead to 4-2 to end the second period but couldn’t complete the comeback, falling to 5-12-1 on the season.
The Huskies got second period goals from sophomore Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.), shorthanded, and from freshman Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia), his second of the weekend. The Huskies held a 27-26 edge on shots but finished 0-for-5 on the power play in the loss.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Huskies right out of the gates, opening the scoring just 1:27 into play. On an odd man rush, senior Matt Robertson dropped a pass back to trailer classmate Kenny Babinski who fired a wrister past Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) stick side. Ferris State made it 2-0 at 10:26 with Jared VanWormer picking-up a loose puck between the circles and depositing a shot top-shelf for his second on the year.
Ferris State tacked on two-more in the second to build their lead to 4-0 at the 7:55 mark. Jacob Hetz made it 3-0 at 3:42, beating Nichols with a screened wrist shot from the slot. The Bulldogs got their first power play chance at 7:43 and wasted little time in converting. A shot by Gerald Mayhew rebounded to Kyle Schempp right in front who backhanded it in to the far post for a 4-0 lead just 13 seconds into the extra man chance.
The Huskies ended the second period strong and cut the Ferris State lead in half. UConn got their second shorthanded goal of the season as Ronan converted on a two-on-one chance at 14:43. Senior Patrick Kirtland (Rocky Hill, Conn.) created a turnover and started the odd man rush, carrying up the left win. Kirtland centered to Ronan who shoveled it past Darren Smith.
UConn struck again in the final minute of the period as junior defensemen Joona Kunnas (Vantaa, Finland) created a turnover in the neutral zone and fed freshman Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) into the zone. Thompson centered to Letunov who walked in and buried one, bar down stick side past Smith to send the game into the break 4-2 Ferris State.
Ferris State’s Smith stopped all seven UConn shots he saw in the third period to keep the Huskies comeback bid in check. The Huskies got a pair of power play chances in the third but failed to capitalize. UConn pulled Nichols with just over 1:30 left in the period but the Bulldogs tacked on an empty netter as Babinski scored his second on the night, off a feed from Matt Robertson with 48 seconds left.
Nichols finished with 21 saves in taking the loss for UConn. Smith made 25 stops to earn his sixth win.
UConn continues their western road trip heading to Arizona. The Huskies will take on Arizona State Tuesday night, January 5th in Tempe. The game will mark the first NCAA hockey game played in the state of Arizona since Northern Arizona University stopped sponsoring the sport in 1985.
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