HARTFORD, Conn. – UConn freshman Max Letunov (Moscow, Russia) scored a pair of goals to add to his team leading total but Sacred Heart University scored a season-high seven goals on the way to a 7-4 win over the Huskies at the XL Center Tuesday night. The Pioneers got a four point night from junior Justin Danforth who scored twice and assisted on two more in the win.
The non-conference loss drops the Huskies to 8-15-3 overall on the season while SHU improved to 10-13-3. The Pioneers also got a pair of goals from junior Jeff Carroll and a goal and an assist from senior Zach Luczyk.
UConn’s Letunov scored twice in the first period to extend his point streak to six-straight games. He has notched at least a point in 14 of the last 15 games and has now scored a goal in the last four. The freshman leads the team with 13 goals and 29 points on the year.
Sacred Heart jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 29 seconds into the game and never looked back. Off the opening face-off, UConn got a solid scoring chance as Tage Thompson (Orange, Conn.) broke through on a break-away but was denied. The puck took a funny bounce and just as quickly as Thompson got a chance the Pioneers were up ice on a two-on-one chance. Danforth fed a perfect pass to Evan Jasper for a one-timer and a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds in.
On the game’s next shift, SHU got another odd-man rush and Luczyk was able to bury a feed from Alec Butcher and the Pioneers had a 2-0 lead 29 seconds in, before many fans had a chance to settle in. UConn’s Letunov cut the lead in half at 4:21, taking a feed from Jesse Schwartz (Toronto, Ontario) out of the corner and one-timing the puck home from right in front.
The Huskies first power play came at 8:42 of the first but the Pioneers needed just eight seconds to score shorthanded as Danforth caused a turnover at the blue line and broke up ice on a break-away, beating UConn goaltender Tanner Creel (Arlington Heights, Ill.) for his first and a 3-1 lead.
UConn got their second power play at 12:34 and Letunov notched his second of the night, cutting the lead to 3-2 at 9:04. Thompson fed his classmate with a cross ice pass to the left post and Letunov buried it for his 13th on the season. The Huskies pulled the game even at 12:15 in the second period as sophomore Spencer Naas (Minnetonka, Minn.) got a deflection in front of a Johnny Austin (St. Louis Park, Minn.) shot from the point, his sixth goal of the season.
SHU responded just over two minutes later and posted back-to-back goals in a span of 1:01 to take back control of the game. Danforth scored his second at 14:27 and Carroll scored his first of the night at 15:28, blasting a shot from the right wing that tucked right under the crossbar.
The Pioneers pushed their lead to 6-3 at 7:47 in the third, as Mitch Nylen scored on a rebound. UConn’s Shawn Pauly cut the deficit back to two with a redirect goal on an Evan Richardson (Nanaimo, British Columbia) shot at 11:07 but that was a close as UConn would get. Carroll added an empty netter at 18:34.
The Huskies finished 1-for-6 on the power play and on the penalty kill, allowed their first goal in seven games, a streak of 21-straight kills.
UConn will be off until next Tuesday, February 1st when they play host to Brown University in their final non-conference home game of the season.
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