ORONO, Me. – UConn junior goaltender Rob Nichols (Dallas, Texas) stopped a career-high 44 shots to lead the Huskies to a 1-0 win at the University of Maine in a Hockey East match-up at Alfond Arena Friday night. Nichols becomes the first goaltender in school history to post shutouts in back-to-back games.
UConn grabs two points in the Hockey East standings taking game one of the series to improve to 8-13-1 overall and 4-7-1 in the league. The Black Bears are now 5-13-4 and 2-6-1 in Hockey East.
Senior Shawn Pauly (Bellingham, Wash.) provided the only scoring on the night, netting the game-winner in the first period. The Black Bears held a 44-19 advantage on shots. UConn killed off all four Maine power plays in the win.
The Huskies scored the only goal of the game at 6:24 into the first period. Freshman Tage Thompson (Rocky Hill, Conn.) fed a pass to classmate Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) in the slot for a one-timer. Letunov’s shot missed the mark with the rebound finding Pauly’s stick in front who tucked it inside the left post for his fourth on the year.
The Black Bears dominated the second period, firing 21 shots on goal to UConn’s six during the second stanza. UConn looked to have a 2-0 lead at 13:13 as Letunov appeared to poke in a rebound. The call on the ice was no goal, that the puck didn’t cross the goal line. After a review the call stood.
Maine’s Brendan Robbins had a pair of grade-A chances in the period but couldn’t convert. On the second UConn power play, Robbins got loose for a break-away chance with just under five minutes on the clock but was denied by Nichols on a pad save. In the closing minutes, Robbins found himself with the puck on his stick and a wide open net but saw his shot slide through the crease and wide of the post.
The Black Bears kept the offensive pressure on in the third period as well, firing 15 shots on Nichols to just six for UConn. The junior goaltender continued to keep Maine off the board and the Black Bears pulled their goaltender with 1:10 for the extra attacker. The Huskies did an excellent job of keeping the puck away from the Maine shooters, letting nothing through to Nichols as the horn sounded on a 1-0 road win.
Nichols entered tonight’s game off a 3-0 win over Arizona State last Sunday where he posted 20 saves. Prior to tonight, no Husky team in program history had shutout back-to-back opponents.
UConn and Maine will close out their weekend series tomorrow night from Alfond Arena with opening face-off scheduled for 7 pm.
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