WEST POINT, N.Y. – Six different Huskies found the back of the net as the UConn men’s hockey team ended the non-conference portion schedule with a 6-3 win over the Army Black Knights at West Point Friday night. Senior goaltender Tom Comunale (Seven Fields, Pa.) made his first career start in net and made 26 saves to earn his first career win.
The Huskies put a season-high six goals on the scoreboard Friday night and improve to 6-10-4 overall with the win, finishing the non-conference portion of their schedule 3-6-3.
UConn built a 4-0 lead into the early minutes of the second period before Army came storming back with three-straight to pull within a goal. The Huskies pushed the lead back to two-goals on a Corey Ronan (Franklin, Mass.) goal at 12:08 in the third and added an empty net goal by Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) in the closing minutes to seal away the win.
The Huskies came into Friday night’s game just 1-for-16 on the power play over the last four games but capitalized on their first opportunity against the Black Knights. The Huskies got their first power play chance at 4:16 as Brendan McGuire was called for elbowing. Sophomore Evan Richardson (Nanaimo, British Columbia) took a feed from junior Shawn Pauly (Bellingham, Wash.) and put a pretty move on an oncoming defender to walk in on goal, and snipe a shot past Cole Bruns, glove side for a 1-0 lead at 5:49. It was Richardson’s fourth goal of the year and third power play tally.
The Huskies made it two-for-two on the power play, increasing their lead to 2-0 at 17:27. Freshman Kasperi Ojantakanen (Helsinki, Finland) blasted a shot from the point that Bruns turned away but classmate Jesse Schwartz (Toronto, Ontario) was there at the left post to bury the rebound for his second goal on the season.
The UConn penalty unit has also struggled of late but the Huskies ended the first period and started the second by killing off a 5-on-3. The Huskies lead hit 3-0 at 5:38 in the second period on sophomore defenseman Ryan Segalla’s (Rockland, Mass.) first goal of the season. Schwartz fed the puck to Segalla just inside the blue line and he blasted a shot through traffic to beat Bruns. The Huskies made it 4-0 just 39 seconds later as sophomore Brent Norris (Ottawa, Ontario) picked-up his first goal on the year. Schwartz finished with a career-high three points (1g/2a) and had his second multi-point game of the season.
Norris chipped the puck into the left corner where Schwartz chased it down and then fed it back to the sophomore right at the top of the crease where he taped it past Bruns for a 4-0 lead. The Black Knights lifted Bruns and went to Parker Gahagen in net who kept the Huskies off the scoreboard the rest of the second period making 11 stops.
Army put an end to the shutout bid just 43 seconds after the fourth UConn goal as Josh Roberts found a loose puck off a blocked shot in front of Comunale and quickly poked it home for his first on the year. The Black Knights cut the UConn lead in half with a power play goal at 17:40. C.J. Reuschlein was denied on a wrap-around attempt but the puck squirted out to Joe Kozlak in the right circle who collected, spun and rifled past Comunale to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Black Knights kept the momentum going early in the third and while Gahagen continued to get stops, including stopping Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) on a break-away, to keep Army in it. The Black Knights got their third straight goal at the 9:10 mark as McGuire chased down a puck behind the Husky net and fed leading scorer Tyler Pham right in front for a one-timer to cut the UConn lead to 4-3.
Ronan ended the rally at the 12:08 mark with his third on the year. Ojantakanen carried behind the net and fed a pass to Ronan in the slot who ripped a shot top-shelf, stick side. The play was reviewed and stood as a goal, giving UConn a 5-3 edge. Army pulled Gahagen for the extra skater with just over two minutes to play but couldn’t beat Comunale. Senior Ryan Tyson (Harleysville, Pa.) cleared a puck to junior Joey Ferriss (Novi, Mich.) who got it to Naas up the right boards.
Naas shoveled a back-hander just inside the blue line and in for his team-leading eighth goal on the season. Naas has now scored five goals over his last five games.
The Huskies finished with a season-high 44 shots and held a 44-29 edge. UConn went 2-for-3 on the power play while Army finished 1-for-4 with the extra skater.
UConn returns home to the XL Center on Saturday night to host the #6/5 UMass Lowell River Hawks in a Hockey East affair. Puck drops at 7:05 in downtown Hartford.