Jan. 9, 2014
STORRS, Conn. – University of Connecticut senior captain Billy Latta (West Chester, Pa.) recorded the first hat trick of his career to lead the Huskies to their fourth-straight win, a 5-1 decision over Robert Morris in Atlantic Hockey action Thursday night at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs. Just one game after fellow captain Brant Harris (Estevan, Saskatchewan) notched his first career hat-trick; Latta completed the trifecta scoring a goal in every period Thursday night.
Harris continued his hot-streak chipping in the other two UConn goals as the Huskies improve to 10-6-2 overall and 8-3-1 in the AHA with the win. The Huskies are 5-1-0 in their last six games and will look for their third-straight AHA series sweep tomorrow night against the Colonials.
The Huskies scored went just over five minutes without a shot on goal but would find the back of the net on their first two chances. Latta gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead 7:38 into the game, backhanding a shot into the left corner. Junior Cody Sharib (Needham, Mass.) dug the puck out from the corner and Latta found it in front skating across the slot for the backhander.
Brant Harris made it 2-0 just 49 seconds later, capitalizing after a solid individual effort by junior Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.). Gerling battled along the left boards and kept the puck in the zone at the blue line to fire a pass right in front to Harris who redirected past RMU goaltender Terry Shafer for his first of the night. The Colonials pulled Shafer after the goal, going to Dalton Izyk.
Harris scored his second of the period at 11:13 to give the Huskies their biggest first period lead of the season at 3-0. Junior defenseman Kevin Tuohy (Salisbury Mills, N.Y.) started the play getting Gerling and Harris up the ice for a 2-on-2. Gerling fed a pass from the left circle to Harris in at the top of the right circle and the senior rifled a wrister past Izyk glove side.
UConn had plenty of chances in the second period but couldn’t find the net until seconds before the end of the period. The Huskies tucked a fourth goal in with 10 seconds to play in the second as Sharib fed a pass cross-ice to Latta at the far right circle. Latta fired off a wrister at the boards and beat Izyk near post, glove side.
Latta completed the hat-trick at 6:16 in the third period as the Huskies converted on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. UConn was patient with the puck and senior Jordan Sims (Toronto, Ontario) fed freshman Joona Kunnas (Vantaa, Finland) at the point who set up Latta in the circle for a one-time blast that Izyk had no chance to stop.
The Colonials ended UConn’s hopes for a shutout at 10:58 as Scott Jacklin scored his fifth of the season with assists going to Evan Moore and Cody Wydo.
The UConn special teams continued to shut down opponent’s power plays, killing off all three of RMU’s chances Thursday night. The Huskies will enter tomorrow’s game having killed off 27-straight penalties dating back to a 2-2 at Canisius on November 30th.
In goal, senior Matt Grogan (Gilbert, Ariz.) made 22 saves in earning his eighth victory of the season. The Huskies finished with a 37-23 edge on shots in the win.
The Huskies and Colonials are back at it against tomorrow from Freitas Ice Forum in the series finale. The opening face-off is scheduled for 5:05 pm.