HARTFORD, Conn. - Senior Jacob Poe (Arlington, Texas) provided the game-winning goal and sophomore Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) stopped all 21 shots he faced to lead the UConn Huskies to a 2-0 win over No. 6/5 nationally ranked UMass Lowell Saturday night at the XL Center in front of a crowd of 6,855. For the fourth time this season the Huskies knock-off a nationally ranked opponent as they even their Hockey East record at 4-4-1 on the season.
The Huskies dealt the River Hawks their first Hockey East loss of the season (7-0-2) and snap their six-game winning streak. Saturday night's 2-0 loss marks the first shutout loss for UML since falling 3-0 at Boston College last February 21st.
UConn put together a solid defensive performance in front of Nichols, limiting the River Hawks to just 21 shots while coming up with 23 blocked shots and killing off all three UMass Lowell power plays in the win. Nichols made 10 of his 21 saves in the third period to earn his fourth career shutout victory. The Huskies outshot UML 27-21 on the night.
The Husky power play struggled to get started, being held without a shot on net during a five-minute man-advantage. Adam Chapie was given a five-minute major for boarding at 10:43 but the Huskies failed to get a shot through on Kevin Boyle during the ensuing power play. The two teams would close out a scoreless first period with UConn limiting UML to just four shots.
The River Hawks gave UConn its second power play chance at the 9:18 mark of the second period and the Huskies capitalized. Junior Shawn Pauly cycled the puck to Poe in the high slot and the senior defensemen got his shot through traffic and a screen by classmate Trevor Gerling (Seattle, Wash.) to beat Boyle for a 1-0 lead at 10:40. It was Poe's second goal on the year and third point in the last four games.
UMass Lowell cranked up the offensive pressure in the third period but couldn't crack the Husky netminder. UConn pushed the action late in the period and looking to maintain possession came-up with an insurance goal. Gerling shot the puck up to freshman Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) on the left half boards and the rookie looked to get the puck on net. Naas whipped a shot that deflected off a UML defender and sneaked past Boyle for a 2-0 lead at 18:16. For Naas, it was his sixth goal in the last six games and gives the freshman a team-leading nine goals on the season.
The River Hawks used a time-out off the Naas goal and were able to pull Boyle for the final 1:22 looking to get on the scoreboard. The UConn defense was up to the task in the final minute, getting a pair of clears while holding the puck in the UML zone as the horn sounded on another upset win.
This season, UConn owns wins over ranked opponents, #15 Quinnipaic, 4-1, #3 Boston College, 1-0, #10 Vermont, 2-1, and tonight over #5 UMass Lowell. The Huskies are now 5-6-1 under head coach Mike Cavanaugh when facing a team ranked in the weekly polls. This season, UConn is 4-4-1 against ranked teams. The win also marked the first time this season the Huskies have posted back-to-back victories. Coming into Saturday night's game, UConn was 0-4-1 in games following a win.
The Huskies finished the weekend 3-for-5 on the power play in wins over Army and UMass Lowell.
The Huskies are back in action this weekend when they face-off for the first time with Notre Dame in a Hockey East home-and-home series. UConn will make the trip to South Bend on Friday night for their national TV debut on NBC Sports Network. The two teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon at 12 noon from the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.