Jan. 4, 2014
STORRS, Conn. - Senior captain Brant Harris (Estevan, Saskatchewan) recorded his first career hat trick to lead the University of Connecticut to a 6-2 win and Atlantic Hockey series sweep over RIT at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum Saturday afternoon. The Huskies take all four points on the weekend and improve to 9-6-2 overall and 7-3-1 in the AHA with the win.
Harris added an assist for a four-point afternoon to lead the highest Husky offensive output since an 8-1 win at AIC on November 23rd. Harris now has six goals and four assists on the season and moves closer to the 100-point plateau for his career with 96 points (47g/49a). Senior Jordan Sims (Toronto, Ontario) added to his team-leading assist total with three helpers and now has 93 career points (32g/61a) as he joins Harris in closing in on the century mark.
A pair of freshman scored their first collegiate goals in the win in Brett Skibba (Verona, Wisc.) and Ryan Segalla (Boston, Mass.). Skibba opened the scoring in a first period where the Huskies out shot RIT 14-3. Fellow rookie Sean Gaffney (Plymouth, Mich.) created a turnover along the boards at the blue line as RIT tried to clear, skated on net to draw a defender and then fed a brilliant pass to a hard-charging Skibba who shoveled it in to an empty net for a 1-0 ead at 4:43.
Harris got his first of the day at 13:36 in the first, scoring off a feed from Sims from behind the net for a 2-0 lead. Segalla got in on the scoring at 6:57 in the second. The freshman defender cleared the puck to sophomore Patrick Kirtland (Cary, N.C.) out of the neutral zone and created a 3-on-2. Kirland carried into the zone and fed the puck back to Segalla in front who buried it top-shelf, glove side.
UConn got their first of a pair of Harris power play goals at 13:03 in the second. Sims centered a pass to junior Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) whose initial shot was stopped by RIT goaltender Mike Rotolo but Harris was sitting at the far post to clean up the rebound for a 4-0 lead.
The senior captain completed his first career hat-trick and the first by a Husky in two seasons just 1:05 into the third period. Senior Billy Latta (West Chester, Pa.) fed a pass to freshman Joona Kunnas (Vantaa, Finland) at the point, whose shot was deflected. Harris collected the errant shot and quickly snapped a wrister past Rotolo for his third and a 5-0 lead. The last Husky to net a hat trick was Brad Cooper who buried three in a 5-3 win over Bentley at home on February 25, 2012.
RIT (6-9-3, 5-5-1 AHA) spoiled the shutout bid at 9:28 as an Eliot Raibl blast from just inside the blue line was inadvertently deflected past Matt Grogan (Gilbert, Ariz.). UConn's Gerling closed the scoring for the Huskies, scoring his second of the weekend at 11:44 with Sims and Harris assisting on the play.
The Husky special teams turned in a solid two-way performance with the power play finishing 2-of-5 on the night while killing off all five RIT power plays. UConn has now killed off 22-straight penalties after this weekend's games.
Grogan made 26 saves in posting the win in goal, 14 coming in the second period. The Huskies held a slim 29-28 edge on shots.
UConn will close out a season-long eight game homestand with an Atlantic Hockey series against Robert Morris this week. The Huskies will welcome the Colonials to Freitas Ice Forum on Thursday, January 9th and Friday, January 10th. Game time on Thursday is 7:05 pm and the puck drops at 5:05 pm on Friday night.