Jan. 7, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - Behind a 38-save performance from junior Garrett Bartus, the UConn men's hockey team earned a 2-0 victory over Niagara for a weekend sweep and four points in the Atlantic Hockey standings. Sophomore Billy Latta scored the game's only goal late in the second period on the power play.
The Huskies improved to 8-10-2 (7-6-1 AHA) while Niagara dropped to 5-8-7 (4-4-5 AHA).
"I told the guys in the locker room that we weren't going to get any extra style points for tonight but we needed get through it. We needed to be strong on the puck and get it done," said UConn head coach Bruce Marshall.
"Bartus was the difference maker tonight. He was phenomenal... It got a little hairy there for a while in front of his net but he managed it well. As much as it's a team game, he kept us in it tonight the whole way," added Marshall.
Tonight's effort was Bartus' third shutout of the season and the second in four games.
"I was pretty busy back there tonight. It was busy in the crease, they had a lot of guys around me all night. Sometimes you have to fight through lanes to see the puck. You need to set a good position and a good angle and rely on the D to tie them up and limit second-chance opportunities," said Bartus.
Connecticut's excellence on the power play provided the game winner with UConn on a five-minute man advantage.
With 10 seconds remaining on the five-minute power-play, Jordan Sims sent the puck along the left corner to Cole Schneider. Schneider had his shot saved from the top of the crease but the rebound came to the right of the cage where Billy Latta shifted the puck to his backhand and lifted home his fifth goal of the season at 18:45 of the second period.
UConn went on to add an empty-net goal from Brant Harris to make it 2-0.
The Huskies earned a hard-fought victory, being outshot 38-24, including 13-2 in the opening 20 minutes. Jordan Sims, who went on to add two assists on the night, had UConn's only chance in the first period with a backhand from the bottom of the right face-off circle.
Connecticut took three penalties in the first period allowing Niagara to keep the puck for the majority of the action.
The Huskies earned a power play 1:10 into the second period and had a quality chance just 19 seconds in. Schneider one-timed a shot from the top of the crease, but Niagara goaltender Chris Noonan made a chest save on the only real chance during the man advantage. The Huskies nearly opened the scoring at 7:20 but Noonan came up with a timely save to deny Brant Harris on a breakaway. Evan Carriere poked the puck free in the defensive zone to Harris heading up ice in the neutral zone. Harris came in all alone on Noonan, deked to his left and went five-hole, but Noonan shut the door to keep the score at 0-0.
Connecticut broke through during a five-minute major penalty. Niagara's Nick Gawron earned a game misconduct for an elbow to the head of a Connecticut player coming through the neutral zone at 13:55. Latta's eventual goal with just 10 seconds remaining stood up as the game winner.
The Huskies held on in the third period as Niagara had constant pressure in the Huskies' defensive zone. Niagara outshot UConn in the final period 16-9.
UConn caught a break with 4:30 remaining. Bartus saved a shot from Patrick Divjak in front before Scott Arnold ripped a shot off the cross bar from the bottom of the left face-off circle.
Connecticut has now scored seven power-play goals in the last four games and has scored at least one power-play goal in nine of the past 11 contests.
UConn will hit the road to face Canisius on Saturday, January 14 at 7:05 p.m. The two teams will play again on Sunday with the puck dropping at 4:05 p.m.