GLENDALE, Ariz. – UConn got goals from senior Patrick Kirtland (Rocky Hill, Conn.) and sophomore Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) but a pair of goals in final 13.8 seconds of the second period lifted Michigan Tech to a 4-2 win Friday evening in game one of the Desert Hockey Classic at the Gila River Arena.
UConn and Michigan Tech were tied 1-1 late into the second period before back-to-back goals by Dylan Steman and Alex Gillies in the closing seconds of the period sparked MTU into the locker room. UConn falls to 6-13-1 overall on the season while Michigan Tech improves to 12-7-2. The Huskies will play in the consolation game of the tournament on Sunday.
UConn jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the first as Kirtland scored his third goal of the western road trip. Sophomore defensemen David Drake (Naperville, Ill.) fed the puck to Kirtland up the right wing and he fired on goaltender Jamie Phillips from the right circle. Phillips made the pad stop but couldn’t collect the rebound as Kirtland collected the puck and shoveled it into an empty net for his fifth on the season.
Michigan Tech knotted the game up at 1-1 at the 14:14 mark as Alex Gillies threaded a pass from the left corner to a waiting Brent Baltus at the right post who finished off the one-timer for his seventh on the season.
The UConn Huskies were outshot 10-5 in the second period but it appeared they were headed to the second break still tied at 1-1 before the late Michigan Tech flurry. UConn got their first power play at 9:53 and had a great chance to go up 2-1 as Jesse Schwartz (Toronto, Ontario) had a look on an empty net but his shot missed wide.
Michigan Tech grabbed control with the first of their final second goals coming with 13.8 seconds left. Reid Sturos held the puck behind the UConn goal and shuttled a pass to Dylan Steman right in front who weaved a shot through a scrum in front of goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) for a 2-1 lead. Off the ensuing face-off, Jake Lucchini won the draw and Baltus fed it to a streaking Alex Gillies up the right wing who buried it for a 3-1 lead just before the horn sounded with 0.5 seconds left.
MTU extended their lead to 4-1 at 5:27 of the third period with Shane Hanna scoring his first of the season, beating a screened Nichols with a wrist shot off a rebound. UConn cut the lead in half just over three minutes later as Naas ended a five-game drought without a goal by scoring his fifth. The sophomore set up in front of Phillips and was able to get a deflection on a Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury, Mass.) shot and poke it past the goaltender to cut it to 4-2.
UConn got a later power play chance to cut into the lead further as Alex Petan was called for roughing with 1:16 left. UConn used their time-out and pulled Nichols for the extra skater but failed to threaten in the closing minute of action.
UConn was outshot 29-21 on the night and was 0-for-2 on the power play. Nichols made 25 stops in net in taking the loss while Phillips stopped 19 shots to get the win.
The Huskies will close out their stay in Arizona on Sunday in the consolation game of the Desert Hockey Classic against either Yale or host Arizona State. Game time to be announced pending the outcome of the Yale-ASU game.
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