HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn men’s hockey team got goals from freshmen Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) and Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) but a Brendan Bradley goal with under five minutes to play in the third broke a 2-2 tie and helped send the University of Vermont to a 4-2 Hockey East win over the Huskies Friday night at the XL Center. The loss drops UConn to 8-14-2 overall and 4-8-2 in the league.
The Huskies got a career-high 30 saves in goal from sophomore Tanner Creel (Arlington Heights, Ill.) on the night. Both Letunov and Thompson scored their team-leading 10th goals of the season while senior Shawn Pauly (Bellingham, Wash.) picked up the assists on both.
The Catamounts outshot the Huskies 34-24 and got a 22 save effort from freshman Packy Munson in net as they improve to 10-14-2 overall and 4-7-2 in the league. Sophomore Travis Blanleil scored a pair of goals for Vermont, including an empty netter with 42 seconds left to seal the win.
Despite being outshot 13-7 in the first period, the Huskies took a 1-0 lead into the intermission on Letunov’s goal. The freshmen took a feed from defensemen Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, N.J.) and burst up the middle of the UVM zone. Letunov had a one-on-one chance with Munson and beat the netminder with a backhander, top-shelf. He has now had a point in four-straight games and 12 of his last 13.
The Catamounts scored twice in a span of 28 seconds midway through the second, starting with a fluke goal. Off a face-off at center ice, defensemen Chris Muscoby looked to dump the puck into the UConn zone, firing into the right corner from the neutral zone. Creel came out to play the puck but Mucoby’s shot hit a stanchion and ricocheted right on goal, sliding just inside the post for an unorthodox first goal of the season at 10:30.
UVM made it 2-1 just 28 seconds later as Blanieil snuck a Jonathan Turk rebound just under the pads of Creel for his first of the season at 10:58.
UConn pulled the game even at 12:55 in the third as Thompson scored his ninth power play goal of the season, a mark that now leads the nation. Pauly fired on goal from the right circle with the rebound coming out to Thompson on the left. The freshmen snuck the puck in past Munson at a tough angle to knot the game at 2-2.
Vermont’s Mario Puskarich created the game-winner, taking an UConn turnover and getting up ice to fire on Creel twice with the sophomore making both stops. The Huskies couldn’t clear the puck as Bradley was able to knock in the rebound at 15:31 for his eight of the season and a 3-2 lead. UConn pulled Creel with just over a minute left but Blaniell was able to fight his way to a loose puck in front of the net and tap it on for the empty net clincher.
The Huskies return to action Saturday night when they travel to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to face the No. 4 ranked Boston College Eagles. Game time is scheduled for 7 pm.
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